Homedale man's death in custody sparks investigation

HOMEDALE -- A Homedale man is dead after a struggle with law enforcement and residents inside a stranger's home.

Allen K. Hernandez, 23, was pronounced dead Tuesday night at Saint Alphonsus in Boise.

Owyhee County Sheriff Perry Grant said Hernandez stopped breathing as a deputy, a Homedale Police officer and a member of the Owyhee County Posse were holding him down.

Hernandez walked about a quarter-mile to the River Road home after he was involved in a minor car crash just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday. The residents of the house say he let himself in.

"He may have knocked, but nobody heard him," Grant said.

Hernandez asked a man inside the home if he could use the phone. When the man agreed, Hernandez dialed 911, telling a dispatcher that he wanted to go home, then hanging up.

Grant said Hernandez next asked for a ride, and to borrow another resident's cellphone. The residents said no, and told Hernandez he needed to leave.

As the three people who lived in the house walked Hernandez to the door, he darted away from them and tried to retrieve one of the resident's cellphone, according to the sheriff's office. When the residents blocked his path, he grabbed a frying pan from the kitchen and tried to hit a man with it, Grant said.

A fight ensued, and a Homedale Police officer, an Owyhee County deputy and a member of the Owyhee County Posse responded to the house to find the men holding Hernandez down on the ground, Grant said.

The officer, deputy and posse member took over restraining Hernandez, who was still combative, Grant said. He said the deputy had one knee on Hernandez's shoulder and was trying to stop him from banging his own head against the kitchen floor.

"All of a sudden, there was a big gasp and he stopped breathing in the middle of screaming," Grant said.

One of the law enforcement officers was trained as an EMT, and immediately started CPR, Grant said. Hernandez was taken to West Valley Medical in Caldwell, then transferred to Saint Alphonsus in Boise, where he died Tuesday.

The Canyon County Sheriff's Office is helping with the investigation. The Ada County coroner has not released a cause of death. It's unclear whether Hernandez was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Grant said his deputies had had contact with Hernandez before. The law enforcement officers involved have not been placed on leave and are still working, he said.


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