May 12, 2021

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‘Police killed my brother’: California police release footage showing officers kneeling on man for 5 minutes before he died – USA TODAY

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Police in Northern California released body-camera footage showing an officer kneeling on a man and pinning him to the ground for several minutes before he went unconscious and later died, a death that the man’s family says largely mirrors how George Floyd died last summer. 

The footage released by the Alameda Police Department shows officers struggling to restrain Mario Gonzalez before pinning him to the ground for more than five minutes. After Gonzalez, 26, lost consciousness, the video shows officers and first responders attempting to resuscitate him. 

The hourlong video, which includes 911 calls reporting that Gonzalez was loitering in the area and possibly under the influence of some type of substance, came days after the department said the man died after a medical emergency amid a struggle with officers attempting to detain him. 

More:George Floyd death: Experts say knee-to-neck restraint is dangerous, but Minneapolis allows it

More:‘We’re going to take care of you, OK’: Bodycam video shows police pinning California man for more than 5 minutes before his death

Officers last week responded to a suburb in the city after getting a pair of 911 calls, one saying the man appeared to be breaking tags off alcohol bottles and another that said the man wasn’t doing anything wrong, but loitering in the area and “scaring my wife.” 

When police found Gonzalez, he appeared dazed and struggled to answer questions about his name and birth date. Officers tried to put his hands behind his back and handcuff him after he didn’t offer any identification, but Gonzalez appears to resist. The video shows officers are struggling to keep Gonzalez’ hands behind his back and are having a difficult time getting him to the ground. Once he is there, Gonzalez looks like he’s trying to get up and trying to get out of the officers’ control, the video shows.

The officers pleaded for Gonzalez not to fight them, the video shows. 

“I think you just had too much to drink today, OK? That’s all,” one officer is heard saying on the video. He added later, “Mario, just please stop fighting us.”

More:Police investigate after ‘disturbing’ video shows officer kneeling on man’s neck in Allentown, Pa.

Gonzalez, who weighed about 250 pounds, is heard grunting and shouting as he’s wrestled to the ground and placed facedown. One officer is seen putting an elbow on his neck and a knee on his shoulder.

An officer at one point notes Gonzalez was “lifting my whole body weight up” during the struggle. One officer appears to put a knee on his back and leaves it there for about four minutes as Gonzalez gasps for air, saying “I didn’t do nothing, OK?”

But after five minutes, Gonzalez appeared to grow weak and goes silent. 

Around that time, one of the officers asked the other whether they should “roll him on his side” but the other officer noted the difficulty in restraining Gonzalez and says, “I don’t want to lose what I got, man.”

The first officer then asks, “we got no weight on his chest?” then repeats “No! No weight … no weight.”

“He’s going unresponsive,” one officer says.

The officers then rolled Gonzalez over and tried to resuscitate him, doing chest compressions. 

“Wake up, wake up,” one officer says repeatedly to Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. He left a 4-year-old son and also was the main caretaker of his 22-year-old brother, who has autism, his family said during a news conference Tuesday. 

“Everything we saw in that video was unnecessary and unprofessional,” brother Gerardo Gonzalez said, according to the local NBC affiliate TV station. “The police killed my brother in the same manner that they killed George Floyd.”

His mother, Edith Gonzalez, described the heartbreak having to talk to her grandson about his death and said his death was due to excessive force by police

“They lying to me, they say my son, he fighting with the officers. I say, ‘No, come on! You guys made a mistake!'” she said. “My grandson, right here, he asked me, ‘Mami, mami, my papi passed away? My papi died? My papi died?’ How can I say that? Somebody kill him?”

Authorities have not released Gonzalez’s cause of death. The three officers who responded to the call have been placed on administrative leave as the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office investigates Gonzalez’s death. 

The department told the local NBC affiliate that investigators have been interviewing witnesses and the officers but are still waiting on autopsy and a toxicology reports. 

The Alameda Police Department’s policies allow for trained officers to employ “pain compliance techniques” in certain arrests, according to the news station. The outlet also reported the department’s policies allow officers to use carotid control in arrests, a controversial maneuver similar to a chokehold. The policy states it can be used when a person is “violent or physically resisting.”  

Contributing: Associated Press

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