Video of California Police Pinning Down Mario Gonzalez for 4 Minutes Before He Dies Sparks Outrage
“The police killed my brother in the same manner they killed George Floyd,” Mario Gonzalez's brother Gerardo told reporters.
A 26-year-old Northern California man last week died after police pinned him to the ground for four minutes in an effort to arrest him.
Police described the man, identified as Mario Gonzalez, who is a father, as "combative" when the paramedics arrived, but there has been scrutiny following the incident after body-worn camera footage was released this week.
Officers were called to Oak Street in Alameda County on April 19 where they found Gonzalez standing in the local park. Two callers reported an intoxicated man and a possible theft.
One caller told the dispatcher that "he's not anything wrong, he's just scaring my wife," the Los Angeles Times reported.
Another caller said he had been "loitering" for almost half an hour.
When officers arrived they spoke with Gonzalez for 11 minutes. After Gonzalez didn’t produce any identification, “the officers try to force his hands behind his back to handcuff him, but he does not let his arms go limp,” according to the LA Times. The officers then say he was resisting and, after pushing him to the ground they pin him down, the video shows.
When officers arrived they spoke with Gonzalez for 11 minutes before they pinned him down, according to Mercury News.
"Officers attempted to detain the man, and a physical altercation ensued. At that time, the man had a medical emergency," a press release from Alameda Police said.
“I think you just had too much to drink today, OK? That’s all,” an officer says in the video. After asking his name, the officer adds, “Mario, just please stop fighting us.”
At that point, Gonzalez is lying facedown on the ground. One officer appears to put an elbow to his neck and a knee on his shoulder.
Moments before Gonzalez stops breathing, one officer asks another, "Think we can roll him on his side?"
But the other one with his knee on his shoulder, answers, "I don't want to lose what I got, man."
Shortly after, officers realize Gonzalez is unresponsive and they turn him over to discover he has no pulse. One officer immediately begins performing CPR. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
His cause of death is still pending.
"Yesterday we saw the footage and we know what really happened," his brother Gerardo Gonzalez told reporters Tuesday, according to NBC. He added later, "at no point was he violent or out of control. There was no 'scuffle' like they mentioned. They could have asked him to call his family and we would have picked him up."
“The police killed my brother, in the same manner, they killed George Floyd."
Julia Sherwin, the attorney for Gonzalez's family, called the young man's death "completely avoidable."
“It was a complete violation of all generally accepted law enforcement policies and training,” claimed Sherwin, who has 20 years of experience handling wrongful death cases. “And these horrible tactics employed by the officers on the scene don’t come out of nowhere. They grow out of bad training and supervision.”
She says the officers should never have laid hands on him.
Sherwin said it does appear In the video as if Gonzalez was under the influence but "we don't kill people for being drunk in a park in the United States."
The family had demanded every piece of footage to be released publicly and to have citizen-led alternatives to police handling crisis response.
The city of Alameda on Wednesday identified the three officers placed on leave during the investigation into Gonzalez’s death as James Fisher, Cameron Leahy and Eric McKinley.
The city did not describe each officer's role in the incident.
Gonzalez’s death is under investigation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the county district attorney’s office.
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