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SAN DIEGO: Vito Vitale (Todd James Vitale) Died In Police Custody After Being Arrested In Little Italy

Oct 11, 2018

Vito Vitale, 39, Who Also Went By Todd James Vitale Died After Police Arrest In San Diego, Little Italy

 SAN DIEGO, (October 11, 2018) A 39-year-old man who has been identified as Vito Vitale (Todd James Vitale) has tragically died after he was taken into custody by San Diego police officers in Little Italy.

Police officers in San Diego received reports that Vito Vitale was running around traffic by West Grape Street naked. The police were able to put the victim into handcuffs but they had trouble restraining him.

Witnesses stepped in to help the police. But Vito Vitale went into medical distress after he was placed in the handcuffs. Officers began performing CPR until paramedics arrived.

He was taken to the hospital in order to receive treatment but he later died. An investigation into the incident remains ongoing at this time.

Deaths In Police Custody

The death of Vito Vitale marks the third time in just a few weeks where suspects have died in police custody. Stephen Cherry of Long Beach died after he was arrested by police and Chinedu Valentine Okobi also died after being arrested. Both men were arrested and tasered by police. These incidents are part of a larger trend of arrest-related deaths (ARD). Very often these incidents may involve suspects that are under the influence or who are having a mental health crisis. Very often police don’t know quite how to respond to these situations and excessive force is used. Police officers will issue commands to suspects who are unable to follow those commands. When a police officer uses excessive force and this results in the death of a suspect, the police department may face civil liability. A wrongful death attorney can examine the facts of your case and let you know if you have a claim that can be pursued.

Liability For Deaths In Police Custody

Depending on a number of factors, police officers could face civil liability for the unfortunate death of Vito Vitale. Suspects have a right under the Fourth amendment of the federal constitution to be free from unreasonable seizures. Civil rights claims against police departments are generally made under two separate doctrines: (1) the “special relationship” doctrine; and the “state-created danger” doctrine. In short, police officers have a “special relationship” when they arrest a suspect and put them in handcuffs. When a police department assumes control of a person’s autonomy they have to make sure that person is taken care of. If, for example, the police fail to give a suspect timely and reasonable medical care leading to their death this may constitute a violation of the suspects rights.

Getting Help From A Wrongful Death Attorney

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our deepest condolences to the family of Vito Vitale. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. Far too often the police are poorly trained in how to deal with suspects that are experiencing a crisis of some form. Our government is accountable to us. They don’t have free reign to simply maim or kills suspects as they see fit.

If you or someone that you love has been killed or injured while in police custody you may have legal recourse. The personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial lawyers can help investigate your case. We are here to help in any way that we can. Our goal is to get justice for our clients and to hold police officers accountable for their actions. Whether you just have questions about your case or are looking to hire an attorney we are here for you (888) 888-9285.


  1. Zac Self. Man who died in custody after being arrested in Little Italy identified. October 10, 2018
  2. John Wihbey. Deaths in police custody in the United States: Research review. 2018
  3. Devallis Rutledge. Liability for Failure to Protect. 2010.

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