The death of a man while he was in KCSO custody has been ruled an accident.
According to the Kern County District Attorney's Office, on December 13, 3017, the Kern County Sheriff's Department received several emergency calls from a neighborhood in Boron. The D.A's Office says Nicholas Lovett appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was attempting to break into a home. According to the District Attorney's Office, Lovett "was known to local law enforcement based on prior contacts with him." As deputies were responding, the D.A's Office says KCSO received more calls saying Lovett was trying to break into homes to "get his mother," who had a restraining order against him.
When KCSO arrived, they found Lovett in the middle of the street. The D.A.'s Office says Lovett initially complied with the deputies' orders to get down on the ground. However, according to the D.A's Office, as officers approached him, Lovett became "extremely violent." During the next few minutes, the D.A's Office says Deputy Todd Newell and Deputy Nicholas Evans attempted to use "control holds" and peper spray to contain Lovett. During the struggle, Deputy Newell was kicked in the head. The D.A's Office says a neighbor came out of his home and attempted to help the deputies by restraining one of Lovett's legs. The deputies were then able to "overcome Lovett's resistance" and handcuff him. The struggle lasted "less than four minutes," says the D.A's Office
According to the District Attorney's Office, after Lovett was restrained, all three men stood up and left Lovett lying on the pavement. The D.A's Office says one of the deputies then saw Lovett choking on his tongue and having a seizure. Lovett was moved onto his aid and medical aide was called for. Medical aide arrived on-scene and attended to Lovett. The D.A's Office says after approximately 20 minutes, Lovett was pronounced dead.
In February, an attorney representing Lovett's family asked the FBI to investigate the incident and the deputies involved.
The D.A's Office says during the subsequent investigation, which was conducted by KCSO, it was discovered that Lovett had been treated at a local hospital for chest pains after injecting methamphetamine. After an autopsy, Lovett's blood tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine at a level of 660 ng/mL. The D.A's Office says methamphetamine in the blood at levels between 200 and 600 ng/mL can cause hallucinations, aggressive behavior and irrational reactions. Amounts at this level are also associated with violent behavior, confusion, circulatory collapse and convulsions, according to the District Attorney's Office.
An analysis by a forensic pathologist determined during the autopsy that Lovett's physical injuries were consistent with events described by those present at the time of the struggle, according to the D.A's Office. The D.A's Office also said that hypertensive heart disease, obesity and physical restraint contributed to the methamphetamine intoxication. According to the D.A's Office, none of the injuries sustained by Lovett during the physical altercation contributed to his death.
As a result of the autopsy and analysis, a forensic pathologist ruled Lovett’s death an accident with the cause of death as methamphetamine intoxication. The District Attorney's Office ruled the force used by the deputies was necessary to take Lovett into custody because he "resisted and fought with them." The D.A's Office has deemed the force used by the deputies "justified."