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Family to get $3.5 million in death of man restrained by sheriff's deputies in Moreno Valley

July 16, 2010 |  6:30 pm

The family of a man who died seven years ago while being restrained by sheriff's deputies in Moreno Valley will receive $3.5 million in a settlement announced Friday.

Last year, a Riverside County jury found that deputies used excessive force against Arthur Lewis Jr., 33, in the October 2003 incident and awarded the family $4.7 million. The county appealed the verdict, however, and the settlement was reached in negotiations between the family and the county.

The victim’s parents said they called 911 because Lewis was not eating, speaking or communicating. When Riverside County sheriff's deputies arrived, the family alleged that they assaulted Lewis without warning with pepper spray, placed him a deadly chokehold and then slammed him to the ground.

The parents testified they heard a “gurgling sound” from their son and saw him go limp. Lewis was carried by deputies to the front lawn of the house, where he was pronounced dead.

The family sued Riverside County, which provides police services for Moreno Valley. Bruce Disenhouse, who represented the county in the lawsuit, declined to comment.

Lewis was a Navy veteran, Loveland Church member and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before his death. He had two sons.

“The family is glad this tragic incident finally has some level of closure,” said Jon Mitchell Jackson, the family’s attorney. “They’re hoping this settlement and verdict will help protect other families in their community from this kind of conduct.”

--Teresa Watanabe