By Daniel Borunda El Paso Times
A bodybuilder shot and killed by an El Paso police officer last month tested positive for anabolic steroids and for a drug found in workout supplements and "bath salts," and he had been shocked at least twice by a Taser, according to an autopsy report.
The El Paso County medical examiner's office on Tuesday released the autopsy for Daniel Saenz, 37, who was killed March 8 during a fight with a police officer outside the Downtown jail.
Police officials said Saenz was handcuffed when he was shot while allegedly fighting with a police officer who was taking Saenz to a hospital for a medical release. Saenz had been arrested on assault charges.
The shooting occurred outside the receiving area in the rear of the jail. The state attorney general has denied an El Paso Times request to make public the jail security camera video that possibly showed the fight.
The autopsy determined that Saenz died of a single gunshot wound. The report listed the competitive bodybuilder as being 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 217 pounds.
"It is the opinion of this examiner that this man died from a close range gunshot wound to the left shoulder, with penetration into the left chest cavity and perforation of the right ventricular wall (of the heart)," medical examiner Dr. Juan Contín wrote in the report.
The autopsy report stated the bullet entered from the top of the left shoulder and traveled from left to right downward and backward. The bullet was described only as "large caliber."
Contín declared that the "manner of death is homicide," which is standard when a person dies at the hands of another.
The autopsy found that Saenz tested positive for anabolic steroids and bath salts, a synthetic stimulant that in some cases can cause paranoia, panic attacks and impaired perception of reality.
In blood and urine tests, the drugs that Saenz tested positive for included dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, according to the autopsy report.
DMAA has been reportedly found in bath salts. DMAA is also found in workout supplements. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety warning about the use of DMAA.
The autopsy found that Saenz's body had two sets of small second-degree burns near his buttocks consistent with being shocked with a Taser. The autopsy listed that Saenz had a 3/4-inch cut on the top of his head and several small cuts and bruises all over his body, including bruising on his wrists.
Police officials confirmed Saenz was handcuffed but have not said whether he was handcuffed in the front or behind his back. Police have not named the patrol officer who shot Saenz.
Friends of Saenz have said that it was difficult to believe that he would have attacked a police officer and questioned why police had to use lethal force. Court records show that Saenz had served jail time in the past.
On the day of his death, police had arrested Saenz on suspicion of assault on a public servant, assault with bodily injury, assault and injury to an elderly person.
Police spokesman Darrel Petry said Tuesday that details on the shooting of Saenz are being withheld because the case is under investigation by the police Crimes Against Persons Unit and the Texas Rangers.
"When the investigation is concluded, all of that investigation in its entirety will be presented to the district attorney," Petry said.
It is standard practice for the El Paso District Attorney's Office to take police shooting cases to be reviewed by a grand jury. Saenz was the second person killed in a shooting by El Paso police this year.