Chris Eisinger, and West Anaheim’s anti-homeless Hysteria. UPDATE: R.I.P.




Chris more recently, and Chris on the high school baseball team.

One thing Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster REALLY wants me to let people know is that homeless, 35-year old Chris Eisinger, somehow at death’s door after an encounter last week near Beach and Lincoln with five Anaheim cops, was NOT one of the 100+ homeless folks being sheltered by the county in West Anaheim motels, and never to anybody’s knowledge stayed at the Santa Ana Riverbed.  So there’s no RATIONAL reason for this terrible and mystifying incident to add to the hysteria out in West Anaheim over the motel homeless.  (Newsflash: those enjoying the rare luxury of a motel room and food voucher are not gonna be prowling through your yards at night.)

But that’s just talking rationally, which is quaint these days.   This was the week that folks out in “Estherville,” already sick of their indigenous homeless, suddenly discovered that their local motels were now full of (well-behaving, very grateful) folks from the riverbed, enjoying temporary lodging while the county tries to figure out something more permanent somewhere, on the orders of Judge David Carter.  It probably would have taken them a long time to notice, if they hadn’t read about it in the Register.  But they were out in force at Tuesday’s Council meeting raising a great hue and cry about all the new barbarians at their gate!

So Eisinger, originally from Lakewood, picked a bad week to wander through some West Anaheim lady’s back yard, scale a fence, and try out car doors, if that’s what really happened.  Forgive the skepticism of some of us who remember the Slidebar’s phony complaint that led to homeless Kelly Thomas’ murder by Fullerton police, or the stalker complaint that led to homeless Vincent Valenzuela (the wrong guy) being killed by Anaheim police.  According to Chief Harvey though, this lady’s story and her terror were genuine.  But what really happened when the cops arrived?

Daron Wyatt, Chief Harvey, mug shot of Eisinger.

We left today’s press conference, as they say, with more questions than answers.  Chief among them, how does a guy magically get a cerebral edema, a swollen brain?

Again according to our new acting Chief, the four responding officers plus a supervising officer all had their body cameras running as they pursued Chris, as he ditched a stick, as he slipped and fell onto his buttocks, and as they spent 4-5 minutes trying to subdue and arrest him while he resisted with kicks and yelling.

Harvey watched all the footage repeatedly and insists that his officers behaved professionally, used restraint, never hit or tased him, DID use a “control hold” to subdue him but NOT a “carotid hold.”  (The control hold involves restraining limbs in a painful way; the carotid restricts blood flow from the neck.  Yes, that’d be the infamous carotid hold that killed Valenzuela, the carotid hold that Adolfo Sanchez was in when Daron Wyatt blew Adolfo’s brains out.) 

Then there was the point that Chris stopped yelling and went limp, allowing the officers to handcuff him, and then notice that he was unconscious and “in medical distress.”  They called for paramedics who determined that Chris was in full cardiac arrest, and took him to the hospital in stable condition.  But there Chris was found to have mysteriously suffered a cerebral edema – severe brain swelling – and was now in serious condition.  At this point Harvey requested a DA investigation into the incident, and initiated his own “incident response.”

No amount of perusal of the footage from these five body cameras gives Chief Harvey a clue as to how Chris could have sustained such an injury.  And it’s not like any of us can help, as we won’t be allowed to see the footage till after the DA finishes HIS investigation.  Meanwhile Chris languishes on a ventilator and could slip away at any moment.

Chris’ old Lakewood friend Matt LeGault (see video below) has always supported the police, but just can’t understand how this could have happened, and especially why the public can’t see the camera footage, just to make SURE it wasn’t the cops’ fault.  Matt played baseball with Chris from a young age, and still refers to him as a “great kid” with “not a violent bone in his body.  Well, sure he was always a sarcastic smartass, but he wouldn’t hurt a flea.”  He feels terrible about having lost touch with Chris over the last couple years, and says that if he’d known his old friend had slipped into homelessness (and possibly drugs), he would have let him “stay on his couch in a heartbeat.”

Here’s hoping: 

  • That Chris Eisinger recovers. 
  • That we find out what caused his injury so we can make sure things like that stop happening. 
  • That affordable housing is provided for OC’s homeless, and the bourgeoisie get over their homelessphobia. 
  • And that next time (if there has to be one) we can see the body camera footage we pay so much money for, without having to wait half a year for Tony Rackauckas to be done playing with it.

Posted by Victor Valladares on Thursday, March 8, 2018

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.