Sacto 9-1-1
November 6, 2013
Coroner: Man who died in Sacramento police custody suffered 'excited delirium'

The man who died in Sacramento police custody in May following a violent struggle with officers died of methamphetamine-induced excited delirium, according to the county Coroner's Office.

John Nat Torretti Jr., 42, died May 24 shortly after being handcuffed by officers outside the Metro PCS store on the 8300 block of Folsom Boulevard. The arrest followed a brutal fight with officers, police said.

That week, coroner's officials released a statement that Torretti's autopsy revealed no obvious signs of trauma to the body - an effort to assuage concerns among some members of the public who questioned whether the man had died as the result of excessive force by officers.

Police said at the time that the finding was consistent with the results of their investigation and maintained the officers involved acted appropriately, given the level of Torretti's violence against them.

An employee of the store called police to report that a man there was making "unintelligible statements" and she feared for her safety. Responding officers fought with the man inside, and the tussle spilled outside. Use of a baton and pepper spray did not deter the suspect, police said, and at one point, Torretti overpowered one of the officers.

Officers regained control of the situation after a bystander intervened and kicked the suspect. After officers handcuffed him, they noticed Torretti was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

According to the Coroner's Office, his case of death later was determined to be "sudden death following violent struggle with law enforcement due to methamphetamine-induced excited delirium."

Excited delirium is a brain disorder typically associated with drug use. Those suffering from it often become agitated and aggressive or violent, and can exhibit unexpected strength. Abnormal brain activity associated with the disorder can lead to sudden death.

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