Excerpts from Steven Juarez Medical Examiner’s Report

Steven Juarez’s body was covered with injuries following the Feb. 25, 2018 struggle with Gilroy police officers that ended in his death at the age of 42, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office report on its yearlong investigation into the incident.

Two pages of the 43-page report are titled “Medical Examiner’s Report,” and list Juarez’s injuries, vital statistics and other results of his autopsy and toxicology tests. Michelle Jorden, a forensic pathologist at the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office, conducted the autopsy. Jorden also reviewed portions of the involved officers’ body camera recordings of the Juarez incident. Here are highlights of her report:

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Juarez’s body showed numerous signs of “external evidence of injury/electroshock weapon deployment.” These injuries include a white metallic barb in his neck area, several oval pink burns and bruises on his abdomen, both knees, left thigh and upper back, the medical examiner’s report says.

Juarez was 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 160 pounds at the time of his death, according to the medical examiner.

The report also listed more than two dozen cuts, bruises and abrasions indicating “external evidence of blunt force injury” on Juarez’s body. These injuries appeared on Juarez’s face, head, arms, knees, legs, hands, shoulders, elbows and other areas.

Jorden also noted “superficial and deep muscular hemorrhage” injuries on Juarez’s left shoulder, left elbow, upper back, rib cage and right thigh.

Juarez’s body also exhibited “additional pathological diagnoses,” including a thickened left ventricle of the heart and focal coronary atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Medical records from Jan. 25, 2017 showed a prior application of a Taser and an attack by a police dog during a previous altercation with Gilroy officers.

Jorden’s toxicology report also found Juarez’s blood results showed methamphetamine in his system at a concentration of 960 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). “The forensic toxicologist indicated that blood levels of 200-600 ng/mL have been reported in methamphetamine abusers who exhibited violent and irrational behaviors,” the DA’s report says. His blood also tested positive for THC, the main psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

Jorden cited Juarez’s cause of death as “methamphetamine intoxication complicating profound physical exertion and police restraint to include carotid sleeper hold,” reads the DA’s report. “Hypertensive and artherosclerotic cardiovascular disease are considered significant conditions contributing to death.” The manner of death—such as homicide or natural causes—is undetermined in the medical examiner’s report.

The DA’s report also includes details of Juarez’s criminal history. The report lists more than a dozen cases since 1994 in which Juarez was convicted of about 20 misdemeanor and felony offenses. Most of these occurred in Gilroy.

His latest case was in Gilroy in 2017, when he was convicted of vehicle code violations, evading a peace officer and hit and run, the DA’s report says. During that incident, Gilroy Police Officer Parker commanded his K9 dog to attack Juarez after he continued to try to run despite the officer’s orders to stop and show his hands. The dog bit Juarez as he tried to jump over a fence, yet he still failed to comply with the officer, according to the DA’s report. The officer also tased Juarez, which had no effect on him. He tried to walk away from police, with the dog’s jaws clenched onto his arm. Juarez ultimately surrendered and was arrested.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Welch, who compiled the DA’s investigation report, said the information about Juarez’s criminal history would have likely been presented as evidence if prosecutors had decided to charge any of the involved officers with a crime.

“If we were to charge, that is information that the attorney representing the officers would want to bring in, and would probably be successful in submitting to evidence,” Welch said. “My goal is to include the evidence that I think would be admissible at trial, and I think his prior contacts (with police) would probably be admissible.”

Compiled by Michael Moore.