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  • Sheriff's probe in-custody death

    Deputy tased Daily Press employee multiple times
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  • VICTORVILLE — Contrasting pictures emerged Wednesday of a Daily Press employee who died Tuesday night in the custody of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies after being stunned with a taser multiple times.
    Family and co-workers of Dante Parker, 36, said the Victorville resident was a hard-working, well-liked pressman with a good sense of humor who loved to sing on the job. They said he took good care of his family and had been riding his bicycle for years to lose weight.
    Parker’s cousin, Ge’shun Harris, told the Daily Press in an email that Parker leaves behind a wife and five children: Four girls ranging in age from 8 to 19 and a 5-year-old boy.
    “My cousin was a good man, and that’s hard to do when you’re born into the streets of L.A. County,” Harris said. “(He) worked hard and took care of his kids and his wife. He would have been 37 (on Thursday). He would always tell me to keep working hard so we can ... get our family out of L.A. My cousin was a good (man) who was born into a terrible place but didn’t let that stop him.”
    But the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a detailed Wednesday press release that Parker was considered a suspect in the attempted burglary of a house in the 13000 block of Bucknell Court. A deputy from the Victorville Station stopped Parker while he was riding his bicycle on Luna Road in Victorville around 5 p.m. after the reported breaking-and-entering attempt. The resident who called deputies had told them the suspect fled on a bicycle.
    Parker’s co-workers said he had stopped drinking earlier this year and had been trying to lose weight for years after his doctor told him he was at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Tuesday was one of his regular days off.
    “He had been trying to lose weight,” Daily Press pressman Ronald Bantug said. “He asked me how to do it and I told him to get on a bike. He had been riding his bike for years with his wife or one of his kids; he lived (around Luna Road) and would always ride in that area. He’d do jumping jacks on breaks out by the freeway or run laps around the building.”
    The Sheriff’s Department said after stopping Parker, the deputy was involved in a struggle to detain him. The sheriff’s news release said Parker appeared to the deputy “to possibly be under the influence of an unknown substance.” As the deputy attempted to take Parker into custody, he became uncooperative and combative, sheriff’s officials said.
    The Sheriff’s Department said the deputy stunned Parker with a taser multiple times and continued to struggle with him for several minutes until another deputy arrived. The two deputies continued to try to gain control of Parker for several minutes. He was eventually handcuffed and placed into the backseat of a patrol unit.
    “That whole story is totally wrong; that’s just not Dante,” Richard Loredo, a former Daily Press pressman who worked with Parker, said Wednesday. “Dante’s not a burglar ... You can see how well his kids were raised; he was a good dad. For the police department to portray him like that is ... unfair.”
    Sheriff’s officials said that after being arrested, deputies observed Parker sweating profusely and he appeared to have labored breathing. Medical aid was requested and arrived at the location. Parker was transported by ambulance to Victor Valley Global Medical Center for treatment.
    According to authorities, Parker was conscious but incoherent while receiving medical treatment at the hospital. He died while still receiving treatment.
    The Sheriff’s Department said its Specialized Investigation Detail is conducting the death investigation. An autopsy will be performed by the Riverside County Coroner’s Office to determine the cause and manner of death.
    “(Parker) was big, like a defensive end in football,” his cousin Harris said. “I understand that he was big and intimidating, but whoever called the police was wrong, because I don’t believe he was doing such a thing.”
    Harris said Parker was the oldest of 27 grandchildren and was the “big man” of his extended family. He said Parker was born and raised in a single-parent household in Compton and met his wife at the age of 14.
    Harris said he didn’t believe that Parker would have been committing a crime; he said he made an honest living and had “everything he wanted and needed.”
    Electronic court records do not show a criminal history for Parker in San Bernardino County, but Los Angeles County records show a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1997.
    Parker worked in the Daily Press pressroom, where the print edition of the Daily Press and other publications are printed.
    Daily Press Operations Director Harry Pontius said Parker started out as a dockworker in the mailroom in 2006. He said Parker was moved to the pressroom as a pressman in 2007.
    “Dante was a hard worker and was well liked throughout the production area,” Pontius said. “(He) was a nice guy, pleasant to be around and had a good sense of humor.
    “Dante was a good man, a family man who just wanted to provide the best he could for his wife and kids. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time and as part of our Daily Press/LMG family he’ll be extremely missed.”
    Michael Rodriguez, 53, a resident of a home in the 12900 block of Luna Road, said he witnessed part of Tuesday’s incident. He said an African-American male was being restrained when he came outside of his home around 5 p.m.
    “It happened right in front of my house,” Rodriguez said.
    Rodriguez told the Daily Press he “heard a commotion outside” and saw two deputies trying to restrain the man, but “he was not cooperating.”
    “They kept trying to restrain him until more deputies showed up,” Rodriguez said. “He was ... super strong, it took about two or three guys to get his hands behind him. They went to try to get him to stand up, but he wouldn’t do it. ... He kept kicking and kicking and kicking. He was very uncooperative.”
    He said the man was eventually carried into the back of a patrol car. Rodriguez said a female deputy “took a lot ... from that guy” and had photos taken of her bruised arms.
    Rodriguez said a portion of the road was closed until roughly 3 a.m. while authorities investigated.
    — Staff Writer Rene Ray De La Cruz contributed to this report.
    Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.
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