A man who died Thursday after being shocked by a Taser has been identified as a 35-year-old Manteca man, Sheriff Mark Pazin revealed Friday.
Authorities said Randulph Rodas was shocked with a Taser after he resisted arrest and struggled with officers. Rodas' family members on Friday, however, claimed he wasn't a violent person.
Rodas' aunt, Cora Mijalli, 54, of Fresno said her nephew had recently moved to Manteca from Hayward. He previously worked as an air conditioner repairman, but in recent months was focusing on raising four children. Rodas had planned to go fishing Thursday morning, she said.
Mijalli described her nephew as a "positive role model," who doesn't use drugs, saying she doesn't believe the sheriff's version of events. "They are not telling the whole truth on this," Mijalli said. "He's a good family man. They are doing a cover-up on this."
When asked about Mijalli's accusations of a law enforcement cover-up, Pazin pointed out that Merced police also responded to the scene, and California Highway Patrol investigated Rodas' crashing of his vehicle into a fence.
Sheriff's deputies also said Rodas has been arrested numerous times, and his record includes a conviction for child endangerment. "I understand the family would like to outsource their misery and frustration at law enforcement, but three agencies responded to a trilogy of events started by Rodas himself," Pazin said.
An autopsy was scheduled to take place Friday, although the coroner's office hasn't released its findings. Pazin said deputies initially thought Rodas was from the Bay Area because his identification showed a previous address from there.
According to the Sheriff's Department, the incident began Thursday morning about 6:15 after Rodas crashed his vehicle into a pole in South Merced but continued driving. He proceeded south on Highway 59 until he crashed into a fence at the corner of Dickenson Ferry Road, deputies said.
A deputy responded to the scene after reports of a man fighting with a homeowner in the neighborhood. Armed with a piece of wood or a stick, the man allegedly turned on the deputy, who then used his Taser, but it failed to subdue the man.
A second deputy responded to the scene with a dog from the department's K-9 unit. The dog was released to try to control the man, but he flung the dog aside, Pazin said.
Deputies called for more assistance, and three Merced police officers responded to the scene. After a struggle, the officers were able to wrestle the man to the ground and take him into custody.
Soon after Rodas was arrested, he stopped breathing. Paramedics arrived and tried to revive Rodas, but he was later pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center Merced.
Pazin said the incident is under investigation to try to determine if the man was under the influence of any substances, saying he possessed an "inordinate amount" of strength during the confrontation.