At 3:45 a.m. on August 12, authorities were notified that Joseph Novoa Lopez, 49, had died at Santa Barbara Psychiatric Health Facility after being forcibly removed from his residence at the New Faulding Hotel for causing a disturbance.
According to a press release from police spokesperson Sergeant Lorenzo Duarte, “An officer was flagged down by an employee of the Faulding Hotel reporting that an individual was destroying his room and throwing items out of the window into City Lot 11.”
The officer recognized Lopez — an on again, off again homeless man with a history of mental illness — from prior contacts, said Duarte.
Additional officers showed up to try and calm the 6-foot, 350-pound Lopez and place him on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, but he continued to resist when police moved to restrain him.
One officer reportedly shot Lopez with a Tazer multiple times in an attempt to subdue him, but to not avail. Police were eventually able to gain control of Lopez and place him in handcuffs.
According to employees who spoke with The Independent Monday afternoon, they witnessed a calmed down Lopez walk into the lobby where he was strapped to a gurney and transported to the hospital.
The county coroner’s office is conducting an autopsy today to determine the cause of death, but the results won’t be available for a few weeks.