Alameda police have released body camera footage of encounters between law enforcement personnel and a California man which showed they pinned the suspect on the ground facing down for more than five minutes which resulted in his death.
On April 19, the suspect, 26-year-old Mario Gonzalez, died in police custody, one day before former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, a black man, after he pinned him to the ground for nearly ten minutes.
Death in Police Custody
Police said Gonzalez got into a “physical altercation” with officers who were trying to detain him at a park in Alameda. At the time, they said he “had a medical emergency.” Authorities said Gonzalez died at the hospital.
The suspect’s family said police used excessive force when trying to detain Gonzalez. “The police killed my brother in the same manner that they killed George Floyd,” said Gerardo Gonzalez during a Tuesday news conference held outside the Alameda Police Department.
Gerardo said his brother did not pose an immediate threat when police arrested him. “Alameda police officers murdered my brother Mario,” he said. The family’s attorney, Julia Sherwin, said the strategy used on the suspect was “strikingly similar” to the Floyd case.
Police body camera footage showed nearly two hours of their encounter with Gonzalez in the park. Residents in the area called 911 and reported a man who appeared to be under the influence. The video showed police asking questions as Gonzalez looks to be having a difficult time answering.
During the encounter, Gonzalez does not provide any identification. Police decide to detain him by handcuffing his hands behind his back. The suspect resists and law enforcement personnel pin him to the ground. They repeatedly ask him his identification while holding him face down on the ground.
“We’re going to take care of you, ok, we’re going to take care of you. I think you just had too much to drink today, ok? That’s all. Mario, just please stop fighting us,” one officer says during the physical altercation with the suspect.
The suspect weighed about 250 pounds and is seen grunting and shouting as officers are holding him down. One officer is shown putting an elbow on Gonzalez’s neck and a knee on his shoulder.
“He’s lifting my whole body weight up,” one officer says during the encounter. Another officer could be seen putting a knee on Gonzalez’s back for about four minutes as the suspect gasps for air. “I didn’t do nothing, ok?” Gonzalez said.
After about five minutes, Gonzalez appears to be weakening and showing signs of losing consciousness. Before the suspect stopped breathing, one officer asks another if they should roll him to his side. “I don’t want to lose what I got, man,” the other answered, NBC News reported.
“We got no weight on his chest? No! No weight, no weight,” one officer says. “He’s going unresponsive,” another one says. Later, the police officers put Gonzalez on his side and perform CPR but was later pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital.