John Thompson, 49, Died After Being Attacked By Bystanders Near McKinley Elementary School In Long Beach

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA (September 24, 2023) – A man identified as John Thompson has tragically died after being attacked by several men outside of McKinley Elementary School in Long Beach.

Long Beach police officials are saying that the incident took place around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. A man identified as John Thompson was allegedly trying to climb the fence of McKinley Elementary School with a sledgehammer.

He was pulled off of the fence by several bystanders before being violently attacked. Police were called to the scene and put the suspect under arrest.

Not long after John Thompson was placed under arrest, he became unresponsive. Police began life-saving measures and paramedics were called to help.

Despite those efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene. His cause of death will be determined by the Department of Medical Examiner. A full investigation into the collision remains ongoing at this time.


Liability For Long Beach In-Custody Deaths

Thousands of people die in-custody each year. According to Open Justice, “In 2019, the percentage of county jail deaths grew to 20.6 percent and the percentage of CDCR deaths decreased to 52.8 percent. The average age of individuals who died in custody was 52 years old. Those who died of natural causes were older on average (65 years old).” Many deaths also take place as suspects are apprehended. There are many reasons that a suspect could die after they are placed under arrest.

  • A suspect could die from positional asphyxia if they are put in an overly restrictive position.
  • A suspect could die from an arrhythmia if they are tased by police.
  • A suspect could die if officers fail to give them medication needed in the event of an overdose.

Police officers must use a great deal of care when they are dealing with suspects. They must use the least amount of force necessary. If a police officer uses excessive force and a suspect dies, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. Pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 1983, every person who, under the color of any statute, law or ordinance, causes a citizen of the United States to be deprived of their rights secured by the constitution, shall be liable to the injured party in an action at law. Many steps should be taken after any in-custody death.

  • Surveillance footage should be sought.
  • Medical records should be preserved.
  • Body camera footage from all officers involved should be reviewed.
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.

Every person has certain inalienable rights afforded under the constitution. But far too often, these rights are trampled on by overly zealous police departments and officers. In particular, officers across California have shown time and time again that they are not well equipped to help people in the midst of a mental health crisis. The family of any person that died while in police custody may be able to seek some measure of justice through a constitutional claim.


Investigating In-Custody Deaths Involving The Long Beach Police Department

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of John Thompson. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. This man clearly needed help after being violently attacked. But instead he appears to have been placed in handcuffs. There are so many questions that still need to be answered. The LBPD needs to do their part and be completely transparent about what took place.

Do you need more information about an in-custody death in Long Beach? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We focus exclusively on helping people who have been harmed by abuses of police power and government neglect. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.

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