Isabel De La Torre was murdered by officers in the Clovis Police Department.
A police dog was used by the Clovis Police to extract 35-year-old Isabel De La Torre, an unarmed woman, from her bathroom. The dog bit and drug the woman out as officers quickly forced her face down on the floor. De La Torre was handcuffed, and multiple officers put their full body weight on De La Torre’s back while others held her arms and legs.
Within minutes, she was dead, the autopsy citing homicide as the cause of death. What started out as a medical crisis ended in asphyxiation and the needless death of De La Torre. Would things have turned out differently if a mental health professional had been sent to the De La Torre home instead of heavily armed police and a K-9 unit?
On Dec. 19, an attorney for the De La Torre family, Kevin Little, announced the City of Clovis had agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle the case. At a press conference, Little and attorney Rodolfo Gonzalez made the following statement.
“The De La Torre case arose from a March 26, 2022, incident in the City of Clovis, during which Isabel was experiencing a medical emergency. Officers were told when they arrived on scene that Isabel was not armed, and that she just had a seizure. Isabel needed emergency medical help, not excessive force. She had committed no crime. Isabel also was a small individual, who was outnumbered eight to one by trained, armed police officers.
“Despite the non-criminal nature of the incident, Isabel’s being unarmed, and greatly outnumbered, the involved Clovis officers devised a paramilitary response that made the use of force their first option. Isabel was forcefully kept in a bathroom by officers, who held the door shut until a K-9 was in place to attack her. Then, without any advance warning to Isabel, the K-9 immediately attacked Isabel as the officers allowed the bathroom door to open, even though video proof shows that Isabel emerged from the bathroom unarmed and did not attack any officers.
“The K-9 continued to bite Isabel even after she was prone, face-down on the ground. The justification for the continued use of force on Isabel was that she was holding an officer’s foot, but the video evidence shows that was nothing more than an instinctive act of desperation of a woman who was being attacked by multiple officers and felt her life slipping away.”
De La Torre’s aunt, Raquel Berumen, speaking at the press conference, said if “any person is calling for help, [the police] should come to them and help, not kill.”
Little noted that “anyone else who would have acted as the officers in the De La Torre case did would at minimum be facing manslaughter, if not murder, charges. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 11 years in prison, and the maximum sentence for murder is either 15 years to life if second degree and 25 years to life if first degree.”
The Community Alliance asked Little what charges the Clovis police officers are facing. He said “the involved officers faced no consequences” and added “Indeed, a couple of them have popped up in more recent cases I am handling.”
The Community Alliance newspaper has submitted a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request to the City of Clovis and will post the requested video (from the officers’ body cameras) at fresnoalliance.com when it is available. The autopsy report, a short video of the incident and the full statement by the attorneys for the De La Torre family accompany this article.
A video, provided by the attorneys, shows some of what happened when Isabel was killed: