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Police cleared in death of suspected South Coast Plaza shoplifter

December 7, 2012 | 10:41 am

District attorney's investigators have cleared police in the death of a suspected shoplifter who died while in Costa Mesa police custody.

Investigators said the May 2011 death of George Marques, 44, of Placentia could be attributed to natural cause, the Daily Pilot reported. County prosecutors said they found no evidence of criminal culpability in the actions of an officer who restrained the man.

Marques was suspected of shoplifting sunglasses from a store in South Coast Plaza on May 18, 2011. Employees at Saks Fifth Avenue were able to hold Marques face down on the ground as he tried to flee, but he continued to struggle, the report states.

When an officer arrived, he knelt on Marques' back and used two pairs of handcuffs to restrain the man's arms behind his back, according to the report. The officer, who was not identified, then reportedly pursued a second suspect who had left the scene in a taxi.

Store employees called paramedics when they noticed Marques had stopped breathing. Marques was pronounced dead at Coastal Communities Hospital in Santa Ana, according to the report.

Citing the results of an autopsy, investigators said Marques had a pacemaker, prior coronary bypass surgery, a coronary blockage, an enlarged heart and multiple drugs in his system when he died.

Ultimately, investigators said, his death was due to heart disease when his pacemaker was unable to revive him after he was apprehended.

There was no sign of head trauma or bone fractures from the arrest, the report said.

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— Jeremiah Dobruck, Times Community News
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