On March 16, 1981 the San Jose Police Department brutally tortured and killed 44 year-old Hugh Rushin.
Hugh Rushin, a father of four was licensed as a nurse. He was struggling with alcoholism and ten days earlier his wife Margaret had left him with their three children because of his drinking. Facing the reality of the loss of his family, Hugh stopped drinking by himself and was in full withdrawal, when he was arrested outside his home in San Jose. Severe alcohol withdrawal, known as delirium tremens or DTS causes hallucinations, shaking, and confusion, which accounts for Hugh carrying a knife, and attempting to enter his neighbor’s home and cars.
The San Jose Police Department subdued Hugh by a choke hold and took him into custody, handcuffing him and placing him in the back seat of a patrol car. Out of his mind, with hallucinations in full control, Hugh kicked and spat while being transported to the county jail.
Arriving at the county jail, the SJPD officers, to their shame, decided that their handcuffed prisoner should be punished and subdued by using a high-pressure water hose, which is extremely painful. Some prison systems have prohibited the use of high-pressure water to deal with recalcitrant inmates and the procedure has been condemned as cruel because it inflicts severe pain and potentially permanent injuries.
The SJPD water hosed Hugh Rushin while he was seated in the back seat of the police car and once that ordeal was concluded they next taped a paper bag over his head to “control” him. SJPD claimed it was a common practice when dealing with a person suspected of PCP intoxication to cover the suspect’s eyes with a blanket to restrict vision and restrict visual stimuli as a method of “control.” Compounding their audacity the SJPD further claimed that in the absence of a blanket, a paper bag was a suitable alternative, made safe by tearing an air hole in the bag.
The photo of the paper bag shows it was tightly taped across Hugh’s nose and mouth. Debunking the air hole defense.
Hugh was suffocated by the SJPD and collapsed. Resuscitation failed. He was hospitalized and died on March 23, 1981 without regaining consciousness. The autopsy by the County Coroner confirmed that death was due to oxygen starvation to his brain and bronchial pneumonia. The amended death certificate signed on April 21,1981 by the Chief Medical Examiner categorizes Hugh’s death as a “homicide/accident” as a result of “restrained by police and paper bag taped over head.” It states the cause of death was “a) anoxic brain injury and broncho-pneumonia b) strangulation and paper bag taped over head.” He was survived by his wife, daughter, son and stepson.
The City of San Jose settled the claims of the Rushin family on a confidential basis for murdering Hugh Rushin and violating its sacred duty to protect citizens whose physical and mental condition required care, protection and safeguarding.
Get in Touch with Our San Jose Lawyers If You Are a Victim of Police Brutality or Civil Rights Violations
Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. As safety lawyers we are committed to providing our clients and the public with information for safer and healthier living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.