FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—July 28, 2021
Contact: Scott Alonso, 925-957-8638, office
Martinez, Calif. – The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office concludes there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Erik Vawter and Brian McDevitt in the 2018 in-custody death of Michael Hernandez. The DA’s Office released a public report about the fatal incident today. No charges will be filed against any officer involved in this incident on Wells Road in Oakley.
On October 30, 2018, Hernandez ran outside of his residence naked with his three-month-old daughter. Witnesses reported Hernandez was running down the street with his daughter in a threatening manner. Hernandez was witnessed gagging the child with his fingers to remove the devil from within her because he believed she was possessed. He repeatedly screamed and yelled he was going to kill his daughter. His partner, the child’s mother, attempted to take her screaming child from Hernandez several times. She ultimately stabbed him with a kitchen knife several times but was still unsuccessful in rescuing her child from him. Thankfully, the baby was eventually given to a neighbor as Hernandez began to attack and choke the child’s mother.
Several neighbors approached Hernandez to subdue him. Multiple witnesses physically held Hernandez down on the ground and detained him. When Deputy Vawter arrived on the scene at 3:38 a.m., the witnesses were holding Hernandez down. Deputy Vawter placed handcuffs on Hernandez, who was prone on his stomach outside his residence. Deputy McDevitt arrived at the scene moments later and both deputies attempted to speak with Hernandez as they rolled him over and saw him foaming from his mouth. The deputies noticed Hernandez was unresponsive and had no pulse. At this point, the deputies removed the handcuffs and rendered emergency medical aid.
No physical force was used by the deputies during this incident nor were they responsible for the death of Hernandez. The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy noted Hernandez died from complications of acute cocaine toxicity.
The DA’s Office and every law enforcement agency in Contra Costa County has adopted the Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incidents Protocol (“the Protocol”) to investigate incidents when officers or civilians are shot or die during an encounter with law enforcement. Under the Protocol, the DA’s Office investigates all officer-involved shootings in Contra Costa County for the purpose of making an independent determination of criminal liability. The sole purpose of the District Attorney investigation is to determine if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed during a fatal encounter with law enforcement.
The public report is available on our website.