Man Dies in Riverside Sheriff Custody

On Tuesday evening, December 15th, 2020, Riverside Sheriff Deputies were called to a Stater Bros supermarket in Jurupa Valley about a male causing a disturbance and refusing to leave the property. As deputies arrived, they got into an altercation with 33-year-old Ernie Serrano. During the altercation, Serrano stopped breathing and later died. Cell phone video caught deputies using a baton to subdue Serrano. Days later Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco held a press conference to clarify details of the arrest and the in-custody death.

Bianco released surveillance video from the store showing Serrano fighting with a security guard before deputies arrived. Once deputies arrived, Serrano continued to fight with the deputies and the security guard as they tried to take him into custody. A taser was used but had no effect on Serrano. A deputy takes out his baton and uses it on Serrano.

Video shows deputies finally gaining control of Serrano while waiting for paramedics to arrive. He stops breathing and life saving measures are administered. He was later pronounced dead. Bianco says preliminary toxicology reports show Serrano died from a drug overdose from methamphetamines. Bianco also says the investigation is ongoing and everything is being scrutinized including the action of the deputies. The district attorney’s office will ultimately decide if the use of force was warranted and procedures were properly followed. The cell phone video of the deputies using the baton has been widely circulated on social media. Bianco says his deputies had contact with Serrano at another location just a day before the in-custody death. Serrano was arrested but later released due to the state’s zero bail COVID mandate.