Politics

Officers who pinned California man for 5 minutes cleared in his death


Three police officers whose fatal encounter with a man in a Northern California park last year drew comparisons to George Floyd’s murder were cleared in a criminal inquiry, officials said Thursday.

A 40-page report from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office concluded that the officers’ decision to detain and arrest Mario Gonzalez, 26, at an Alameda park on April 19, 2021, was “objectively reasonable,” the city of Alameda said in a statement.

The officers’ use of force was also reasonable “considering the agency policies, the totality of the circumstances and the officers’ stated rationale,” the statement says.

“Mr. Gonzalez did not die due to asphyxiation, nor did he complain to the officers that he could not breathe,” the report says.

In its statement, Alameda officials called Gonzalez’s death “tragic” and said the three officers would remain on paid administrative leave while an independent investigation for the city continues.

In a statement Thursday, lawyers for Gonzalez’s family called the report “shameful” and said it remains rare that police “who kill unarmed people of color in this country ever face criminal consequences. The only people who hold officers who commit these crimes accountable are typically the victims’ families, in federal civil rights cases.”

A lawyer for the family, Julia Sherwin, has previously said that what killed Gonzalez “was the Alameda police officers forcing him down in the dirt, putting their body weight on him and pinning him down.”

In December, Gonzalez’s death was ruled a homicide and the local coroner’s office attributed his death to the “toxic effects of methamphetamine.” The stress of the confrontation combined with alcoholism and morbid obesity contributed to his death, the official said.

The encounter began when officers were called to a park after two reports of a man who appeared to be under the influence and a suspect in a possible theft. A physical confrontation recorded on body camera followed that showed an officer putting an elbow on Gonzalez’s neck and another appear to put a knee on his back.

Gonzalez could be heard gasping for breath, saying: “I didn’t do nothing, OK?”



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