Man Who Died in Custody Wanted in Sonoma County Assault on Elderly Victim

A man who died in police custody in San Francisco’s Marina District this morning after allegedly fleeing a crash was being sought in connection with a brutal attack on a 96-year-old man in the Graton area of Sonoma County, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Filimoni Raiyawa, 57, was wanted by the sheriff’s office in connection with an assault reported around 5 a.m. today at a home in the 13000 block of Dupont Road in Sonoma County.

Someone at the home called for an ambulance and reported that the 96-year-old resident had suffered a fall, Sonoma County sheriff’s Lt. Carlos Basurto said.

The victim’s injuries were found to be suspicious, and sheriff’s deputies determined the victim had been badly beaten with an unknown object, Basurto said.

The victim suffered serious head injuries and was taken to a hospital.

Raiyawa, the elderly man’s caretaker, had fled the victim’s residence in a light blue Honda Odyssey van with California plate No. 3VWY823, Basurto said.

Basurto said at the time that Raiyawa, who lived on the property, was 6 feet tall with a large build, and that anyone who came across him should consider him to be dangerous.

Detectives are continuing their investigation into the assault that occurred earlier this morning on Dupont Road, but said there are no other suspects related to the case.

At about 5:30 a.m., Raiyawa drove into San Francisco and was involved in a collision and then an encounter with police officers. During his detainment he stopped breathing and died, according to Basurto.

San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said this afternoon that around 5:30 a.m., police received a 911 call reporting aggressive behavior by a motorist following a collision at Richardson Avenue and Francisco Street.

While en route to the scene, officers learned that a driver had rear-ended another driver.

Suhr said that immediately after the crash, the driver of the rear-ended vehicle got out of his vehicle to discuss the crash with the other driver.

But when he approached the vehicle, the driver of the rear vehicle was “seated, transfixed, looking forward, hands on the steering wheel, the airbag had been deployed and he was speaking something about God, God’s will, things about God,” Suhr said.

The forward driver became scared and backed away. The rear driver then exited the vehicle and started going after the forward driver, Suhr said.

The rear-ended driver began to run away while the suspect, described as a roughly 250-pound, powerfully built man, “walked after him purposefully,” Suhr said.

The rear-ended driver walked around the block while calling 911 and describing the man to a dispatcher, then returned to his vehicle and saw the suspect head east on Lombard Street.

Minutes later, two female police officers located the man about five blocks away from the crash, at Lombard and Pierce streets, and attempted to make contact with him.

Suhr said the suspect then struck one of the officers on her head and shoulders, knocking her to the ground and “nearly unconscious.”

He then struck the other officer, injuring her knees, legs and wrist.

The suspect then attempted to enter an IHOP located at the intersection via an exit-only door. He began pounding on the door, but none of the restaurant employees would let him in, according to Suhr.

Additional officers responded and just outside the Surf Motel, a struggle ensued, he said.

The suspect was taken to the ground in handcuffs. He was breathing and talking to the officers while on the ground, but within minutes he went into distress and stopped breathing, according to Suhr.

Suhr said he didn’t know what the man was saying to the officers, but that such information would come out during interviews with the officers.

Officers rendered CPR and first aid until paramedics took over and ultimately pronounced the man dead at the scene. The cause of his death has not been determined, police said.

Suhr said the suspect was unarmed and police did not use their firearms, but one of the female officers did deploy a collapsible baton.

Both officers who were injured this morning have been released from the hospital and are recovering, Suhr said.

Both female officers and all officers who had contact with the suspect will be placed on administrative leave during the investigation, per department protocol.

Suhr said the names of the officers would likely be released to the public within a week.

Prince Tenefrancia, a server at the IHOP restaurant at 2299 Lombard St., said that he saw emergency responders “trying to do CPR for a while.” He said the entire block of Lombard Street was blocked off this morning and employees at IHOP were asked to stay inside during the investigation.

Suhr said the police encounter with the suspect at the Surf Motel was captured on video surveillance from a nearby building. He said the footage shows that “the officers used a reasonable amount of force.”

He said the decision on whether to release the video footage of the incident will be up to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!