Witness: Man Killed by CV Casino Security Guards Was Held Down Like George Floyd

Witness: Man Killed by CV Casino Security Guards Was Held Down Like George Floyd

Created: 18 January, 2022
Last update: 26 July, 2022

By Alberto Garcia
Investigative Reporter

An eyewitness saw three Chula Vista casino security guards hold a man down for several minutes before the suspect lost consciousness and later died in a case reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd.

The incident took place outside the front entrance of the Seven Mile casino in West Chula Vista around 8:45 pm on Monday, January 17th, after security guards confronted a man who assaulted a casino employee.

The 46-year old man, who has not been identified, had an altercation with casino security two days before the incident. He apparently returned on Monday and was told he could not enter.

That’s when three security guards got into a scuffle with the man outside the main entrance to the local casino.

A witness who walked outside to watch the incident states that three security guards laid on top of the man to subdue him as the suspect struggled.

The witness states that the man said he could not breathe and asked for help, but the security guards remained on top of him for several minutes.

“A large security guard was on the man’s back, another was on his midsection, and the third was on his legs,” the witness told La Prensa San Diego. “The man was struggling to breathe and asked for help but the guards continued to hold him down.”

La Prensa San Diego is not releasing the name of the witness, but the person has given a statement to Chula Vista Police.

The suspect was already unconscious before an ambulance and police arrived, and employees were trying to revive him, although no one performed CPR until paramedics initiated live-saving procedures. The man was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Chula Vista Police Department Lt. Dan Peak described the incident as a “physical altercation” between the man and security guards.

Several news stories in other media outlets have reported that the man having stopped breathing after a “fight” with security guards. None of those stories mentioned that the security guards remained on top of the victim for several minutes before he passed out.

The witness says the incident was reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020 which led to protests and calls for police reforms.

The case is also similar to the death of Angel Zapata Hernandez who died at the hands of San Diego transit security guards in downtown in October 2019. In both of those cases, the victims died after being restrained face down with others on top of them.

But in both the Floyd and Hernandez cases, the first police reports described the victims as having experienced medical emergencies while being arrested, and it wasn’t until later that videos proved that the men were killed by excessive force having been applied to their backs which limited their breathing.

The police officer who held Floyd down was convicted of murder and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. The security guards who held Hernandez until he died were not charged in his death.

“This was so similar to George Floyd that I cant believe they continued to hold him down in the same way,” the witness said. “I thought everyone now knows that people can die from being held down like that but these guards didn’t get off of him until he was unconscious,” he added.

Chula Vista Police is investigating the case.

Seven Mile casino, located at 285 Bay Blvd near F Street, opened in 2014 after a $3.7 million renovation and expansion of an existing building. The casino had previously operated since 1946 as the Village Club at 429 Broadway.

The casino is regulated by the State of California as a cardroom and must maintain licensing from the Bureau of Gambling Control and the California Gambling Control Commission. Cardrooms can offer casino games including blackjack, three-card poker, baccarat and pai gow poker, but unlike Tribal Reservation casinos, can only supply the dealer, tables, chips and cards, and the player-dealer “house” position is offered to a different player every two hands. Independently-owned companies take the “house” position if no player opts to provide the bankroll.

The City of Chula Vista also requires a local license and taxes the casino. Annual tax revenues to the City from the casino total more than $800,000 per year. As a regulated casino, the location is constantly monitored by the Chula Vista Police Department.

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