A California man remains in custody following a brawl involving two Lake Havasu City police officers over the weekend.
Jonathan Otineru, 21, of Yucaipa, Calif., was charged with aggravated assault to a police officer and resisting arrest and was held in lieu of a $20,000 cash-only bond, according to Lake Havasu Police Sgt. Troy Stirling.
Stirling said that at about 4 p.m. Saturday, two police officers were patrolling in the area of sign 9 on the east bank of the channel near where a disc jockey was playing music. Police said the DJ turned down the music and they heard him on the microphone asking people to calm down. Police saw what looked like a scuffle and went to investigate. Police said several people were holding back Otineru but he broke away and took a swing at officers.
Police attempted to subdue him by taking him to the ground but Otineru broke free and continued to struggle with officers as a crowd surrounded them. After struggling for a few minutes, police tasered Otineru and used what Stirling called a “drive stun” on him as well.
“In order to disable a person effectively using a Taser, you need to have distance between the probes when the individual is stunned so there is more area affected. When deployed in that fashion, the individual is ‘locked up’ and can’t resist. But in close quarters, when the Taser is placed against the individual’s body and activated, that is called a ‘drive stun.’ You get more pain with that but are not disabled like you are when there is some distance.” The Taser arcs electricity through the posts directly into the person as opposed to deploying it through the probes.
Stirling said the officers were trying to get distance to maximize the effectiveness of the device, but that is difficult in a close-quarters struggle.
“At one point Mr. Otineru fell into the lake so he was slippery and even harder to subdue,” Stirling said.
Backup units were called, the crowd was dispersed and Otineru was taken into custody but was combative all the way to the station, Stirling said.
“At one point while the officers were trying to subdue (Otineru) someone in the crowd took a video with their cellphone and that was posted on Facebook,” Stirling said. “It was also posted on the Havasu scanner feed (an online site which re-broadcasts local police calls and enables residents to post videos).”
Otineru, who was listed as being about six feet tall and weighing 190 pounds, was taken to jail and was still in custody as of Tuesday afternoon.
“This is an extreme case,” Stirling said, “and not at all typical of what usually happens down there.” He said fights occur because of the congestion, atmosphere and availability of alcohol and occasionally, other substances, but it is rare that police are involved in fights with spring break students.