Academy cadet dies after training exercise

Authorities have not yet determined the San Jose man's cause of death

Robert Salonga
The Mercury News

MORGAN HILL, Calif. — A cadet in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s academy for jail deputies has died after he collapsed during training Tuesday morning, according to authorities and law-enforcement sources.

The cadet — just a couple of weeks shy of graduation — collapsed within minutes of finishing an exercise at a sheriff’s facility in Morgan Hill, and died later that day at Regional Medical Center of San Jose.

In a written statement issued Wednesday, the sheriff’s office confirmed the death, which was first reported by San Jose Inside, but did not identify the cadet by name. Multiple sources identified him as 39-year-old Koichi John Nishimura of San Jose.

“It is with great sadness we report the unexpected passing of one of our recruits,” the sheriff statement reads. “The recruit had been participating in defensive tactics training at the academy yesterday. We are currently reviewing the information and circumstances.”

Nishimura had just completed an intense endurance and resistance exercise meant to simulate an assault and train him in withstanding and fending off such an attack, according to a law-enforcement source. He had run beforehand, the source said, because part of the training is to instill the ability to give orders and maintain control of a confrontation while fatigued and under physical duress.

Sources said the training entailed Nishimura wearing protective gear over his head and chest and holding a baton while another person wore what is known as a RedMan suit, consisting of head-to-toe padding, and simulating the role of a combative suspect. Nishimura was reportedly being coached during the exercise.

A formal cause of the death had not been determined as of Wednesday, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office. Through the sheriff’s office, Nishimura’s family declined comment and “requested to have the appropriate time and space to mourn the loss of their loved one.”

The Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers Association declined to comment on the death to this news organization, citing a need to gather more information. The sheriff’s office added that they have been in close contact with the family, but a spokesperson said the agency was not commenting beyond its initial statement Wednesday.

Nishimura was set to graduate from Academy 21 in July. He and his classmates were supposed to graduate sooner, but academy training was halted during the initial phases of the county shelter-in-place order.

©2020 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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