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Family of Mario Gonzalez settles with Alameda police for $11 million

3 mins read

The family of a man who died while being restrained by Alameda police in 2021 settled with the City of Alameda and the police officers involved in his death for $11 million. 

Mario Gonzalez died on April 19, 2021, after Alameda Police Department officers pinned him down to the ground for several minutes. 

He was 26 years old. 

Gonzales left behind a now 7-year-old son. He will be paid $11 million, and $350,000 will go to Gonzalez’s mother. 

“The separate settlement agreements with the estate of Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Gonzalez’s mother, both of which are in the process of being finalized, are expected to provide that payment shall fully and forever discharge and release all claims and causes of action,” the City of Alameda said. “The parties further agreed that the settlement shall not be construed as an admission by any party of liability or of any fact that might give rise to liability for any purpose.”

On the day of Gonzalez’s death, Officer Eric McKinley responded to a park in Alameda due to a report of a man talking to himself and scaring the caller’s wife. 

The officers attempted to take him into custody after suspicion of being drunk in public. Gonzalez allegedly possessed bottles of stolen alcohol and failed to show identification. 

According to the lawyers representing Gonzalez’s son, an officer confirmed that Gonzalez did not steal the liquor bottles. 

However, McKinley called for backup, and he and Officer James Fisher handcuffed Gonzalez, forcing him face-down on the ground and holding him down with their weight. 

A third officer, Cameron Leahy, was also involved in the restraint.

“Mario Gonzalez struggled to breathe over the next five minutes while these officers restrained him in a prone position with their force and body weight, including for 3 minutes and 45 seconds after he was handcuffed,” the law firm said.

The Alameda County Sheriff-Coroner ruled the death a homicide.

“The officers were applying pressure to [Mario Gonzalez’s] torso and legs with at least some of the weight of their bodies,” the coroner said. It said that the stress of the altercation contributed to Gonzalez’s death, along with his obesity, alcoholism, and recent use of methamphetamine.

Charlene

Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.

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