BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The city of Bakersfield has rejected a claim filed by the family of a man who died over the summer during an encounter with police, paving the way for a lawsuit.
The family says Michael Frank Marrufo died as a result of excessive force on the part of officers; coroner’s officials say he died of a drug overdose.
Attorneys representing Marrufo’s family allege “wrongful conduct” on the part of officers who chased him the afternoon of July 18 after noticing he resembled the description of a shooting suspect. They say Marrufo told police he had a bad heart, but an officer grabbed him as he climbed a fence and threw him to the ground, where he hit his head.
“As a result of the act and use of force by the Bakersfield Police Department officers, (Marrufo) died,” Los Angeles attorney Humberto Guizar says in the claim.
Coroner’s officials on Thursday said Marrufo, 39, went unresponsive while climbing the fence and died from acute methamphetamine and 4-ANPP toxicity. His death was accidental, officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 4-ANPP is used as a precursor to produce “fentanyl-type drugs,” and is a metabolite of fentanyl.
The city rejected the claim on Sept. 5. It did not appear a lawsuit had been filed either locally or in federal court as of Thursday. Guizar could not be reached for comment.
Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Tipton has said officers wore body-worn cameras during the chase that began in an alley in the 600 block of Irene Street.
Marrufo resembled a suspect in a shooting that happened minutes earlier at the McDonald’s on Columbus Street and Mount Vernon Avenue, Tipton said. A man was wounded in the shooting.
When police contacted Maruffo, he was holding a gun, Tipton said. A gun was later recovered.