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Jury deadlocks in case of deputy accused of hogtying mentally ill man

This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom

A judge declared a mistrial Friday after jurors deadlocked over allegations that hogtying by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies caused a mentally ill man to go into a coma from which he never fully emerged.

While the jury was deliberating after a month-long trial, the alleged victim, Parrish Batchan, died at the rehabilitation center in Van Nuys where he had been for the three years since the confrontation.

Batchan, a ticket scalper from Arizona with a history of schizophrenia, was confronted by sheriff's deputies and Vernon police on Dec. 29, 2008, as he ran naked through the streets of the industrial outskirts of L.A. babbling and punching cars. While hogtied on the ground, he went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics revived his heart, but he never fully regained consciousness.

Batchan's mother, Barbara Batchan, sued the two departments. Vernon agreed last month to pay $1.5 million to settle the case. The Sheriff's Department argued its side at trial.

During the trial, the plaintiffs argued that Parrish Batchan went into cardiac arrest because deputies restricted his breathing when they restrained him -- both because of the hogtying and because a deputy placed his full weight on Batchan's back before that, while he was handcuffed on the ground.

The defendants argued that deputies, Rigoberto Munoz and Omar Bobadilla, used only the necessary amount of force to restrain a combative suspect and that Batchan went into cardiac arrest instead because of a phenomenon called excited delirium. Each side brought in a series of expert witnesses to make their case.

Hogtying, or total appendage restraint procedure, in which a suspect's hobbled legs are attached to his handcuffed hands, has been the subject of other high-profile lawsuits. Some departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department, no longer allow the use of that restraint method.

The 12 jurors in the Batchan case were split down the middle on the question of whether the deputies were negligent and whether they used excessive force, said Barbara Batchan's attorney, Benjamin Schonbrun. The jurors were not aware that Batchan had died early Wednesday morning, while they were deliberating.

The parties will be back in court next week to set a new trial date. Schonbrun said the plaintiffs will also be filing wrongful death claims.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said, "The county will move forward in the appropriate manner. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and the loved ones, always."

[For the record, 3:35 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said that a settlement hearing with Vernon was scheduled for next week. A settlement agreement in that case was signed Feb. 8.]

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-- Abby Sewell

 
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