Police in Northern California released bodycam video that shows officers pinning a man to the ground for more than five minutes during an arrest that ended in his death. The footage of the incident shows officers putting their weight onto Mario Arenales Gonzalez, then doing chest compressions after he became unresponsive.
The bodycam video, released late Tuesday, shows the struggle between Gonzalez, 26, and police in Alameda County last week. Gonzalez died on April 19, the day before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd by pinning him to the ground for over nine minutes.
The initial press release from the Alameda Police said that officers attempted to detain Gonzalez, and a “physical altercation ensued.” Police said that Gonzalez then had a “medical emergency.”
When the Alameda Fire Department arrived at the scene, they transported Gonzalez to a local hospital, where he later died, police said. According to the report, Gonzalez allegedly appeared to be under the influence and was a suspect in a possible theft.
Bodycam footage shows an officer attempting to question Gonzalez, who struggled to respond. He told Gonzalez he was coming to check on him, after 911 calls reported he was “not feeling so great.”
After several minutes of questioning, several officers pin Gonzalez to the ground and handcuff him, telling him to stop resisting arrest. One officer said, “It’s okay, Mario. We’re gonna take care of you.”
At one point, Gonzalez seems to say, “Please, don’t do it.”
The video also shows Gonzalez gasping and crying, as police tell him to “calm down” and “stop kicking.” After several minutes, one officer suggests rolling Gonzalez onto his side, but another officer replies, “I don’t want to lose what I got.”
Officers appear to press their body weight onto Gonzalez using their arms, elbows and at least one knee. Gonzalez eventually becomes unresponsive, and police roll him over and attempt life-saving measures before medics arrived.
The city also released the 911 calls that initially reported Gonzalez. One caller said that Gonzalez had been loitering in the area and appeared to be breaking security tags off of alcohol bottles. Another caller said Gonzalez was talking to himself and “not doing anything wrong” but “just scaring my wife.”
Gonzalez, who lived in Oakland, was the father of a 4-year-old and a caretaker of his 22-year-old brother Efrain, who has autism, his family said in a statement on GoFundMe. His family said watching the bodycam footage was “re-traumatizing and heartbreaking.”
“We need justice because we lost someone who was indispensable to our family,” Gonzalez’s mother told CBS station KPIX-TV last week. “Mario was a noble and decent man who didn’t deserve to have his life ended in this way.”
According to the family, Gonzalez was healthy and had no known medical conditions. They have requested an independent autopsy and an independent investigation, and they are seeking criminal charges against the officers involved.
“We want to know what happened,” Gonzalez’s family said in a statement. “What I know about my brother Mario is that he was not a violent person. Mario was kind. He helped my mom take care of our brother. He wouldn’t hurt anyone. Our family needs answers.”
“The police killed my brother in the same manner that they killed George Floyd,” Gonzalez’s brother, Jerry, said at a press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday. “There was no reason to detain him, let alone kill him. The APD took a calm situation and made it fatal.”
Gonzalez’s mother said that police “killed him for no reason,” adding that he is “not a criminal at all.”
The three officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave. The city said it is conducting an independent investigation, and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and Alameda County District Attorney’s Office are also conducting criminal investigations.
The cause of death remains unknown, pending an autopsy.
“The loss of Mr. Gonzalez is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones,” Interim Police Chief Randy Fenn said.
“The City of Alameda is committed to full transparency and accountability in the aftermath of Mr. Gonzalez’s death,” the city said in a statement Tuesday.
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