Oral Nunis died in March of 2020, after an interaction with the Chula Vista Police Department, due to a sudden cardiorespiratory arrest while being restrained in police custody according to the newly released autopsy of Nunis.
His daughter initially called police concerned over his well being as he experienced a mental health episode. Nunis was chased outside and tackled to the ground after a brief struggle with the arriving officer. Per a report from the Voice of San Diego two more police officers arrived and forced Nunis into handcuffs and then a WRAP device. Once restrained, officers handed Nunis off to paramedics, and he was declared deceased that night in a local hospital.
The Voice of San Diego obtained a copy of the autopsy through a records request after it had been sealed for more than a year by the CVPD. Though the autopsy offered more clarity on the incident, questions surrounding an exact cause of death and whether his death was a justifiable outcome of his interaction with police that night remain.
Nunis' family is suing the City of Chula Vista for wrongful death and use of excessive force. The family's attorney stated that “Mr. Nunis, threatened by officers' tone and signs of being arrested, ran out of the apartment room and down a flight of stairs that led outside. Chula Vista Officers pursued Mr. Nunis outside and one of the officers tackled Mr. Nunis to the ground.” Body-worn camera footage was released by the CVPD in August in the midst of the legal battle.
Details from the autopsy were included in the video even though the CVPD hadn’t made the autopsy report public yet. The autopsy report said he had “multiple abrasions of head, face, torso, and upper and lower extremities".
“Unfortunately within moments Mr. Nunis went from a passive state to resisting the solo officer’s efforts to talk through his difficulties. Mr. Nunis quickly stood up and moved to the staircase as though to invade the officer. In light of Mr. Nunis’ irrational and unpredictable state, and his earlier attempt to jump through a second story window, consistent with our department’s training, our officer moved to try to restrain Mr. Nunis so that he could not pose a danger to himself or others. But Mr. Nunis broke free and ran outside, potentially increasing the danger to himself and the public. In response, our officer tackled Mr. Nunis and tried to restrain him again” Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said.
The official cause of death listed in the autopsy is, “sudden cardiorespiratory arrest while restrained in police custody.” The manner of death is listed as "undetermined.” The autopsy report states that it is unclear why the decedent went into cardiorespiratory arrest and that there was no evidence of significant natural disease, trauma, drugs of abuse, or obesity to explain the death.