STOCKTON (CBS13) – Police say an alleged car thief died after he was tackled by neighbors. The deadly altercation took place in the 300 block of East Jackson Street out in front of an apartment complex in the Seaport District.
Neighbors saw a man breaking into several cars and jumped into action, taking the man to the ground before calling the police.
After authorities arrived, they found the suspect was unresponsive. Police say he suffered from cardiac arrest and died. He was only 35-years-old.
“Simply because a person dies does not mean that the use of force was unreasonable,” said John Myers with McGeorge School of Law.
He said there are statutes in place to protect you from thieves.
“A person can use reasonable non-deadly force to protect property,” he said. “They could never use deadly force to protect property.”
Neither the suspects nor concerned citizens had a deadly weapon.
“A person can make a citizen’s arrest and in this case, they can argue that that’s what they were doing,” he said.
So when can a person use deadly force?
“If you are threatened with deadly force, whether you’re on the street or in your own home, you have the right to defend yourself or your family with deadly force if necessary,” he said.
Myers says it’s just unfortunate.
“The police sometimes have this happen to them when they arrest someone using reasonable force and the person has a heart attack and dies, everybody thinks the police did something wrong, but that’s not necessarily so,” he said.
While neighbors may have scared the criminal to death, he says criminal charges are unlikely.
“It sounds as though it’s a tragic and unfortunate situation, whether charges will be filed or whether a civil suit will be filed by his family it’s hard to say,” he said.
Stockton police immediately began performing life-saving measures on the suspect but were unsuccessful. The coroner has not yet released the suspect’s name.