The body camera video of a 26-year-old man who died in police custody after being pinned facedown on the ground for five minutes in Alameda County, California, was published Tuesday.
The man, Mario Arenales Gonzalez, becomes unresponsive while in handcuffs, and police officers quickly begin chest compressions, according to footage from the Alameda Police Department.
Gonzalez died on April 19, one day before Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty of murdering George Floyd by restraining him for nine minutes and 29 seconds, long after Floyd had become unresponsive.
As officers attempted to apprehend Gonzalez in Alameda, south of Oakland, “a physical altercation ensued,” according to an original police report, and “at that time, the man had a medical emergency.” Gonzalez died later that day in a hospital, according to the article.
Gonzalez's counsel, Julia Sherwin, called the explanation "misinformation," comparing it to the original police report following Floyd's death. Gonzalez's family was also curious about why the cops used force in the first place, according to Sherwin.
“His death was entirely avoidable and unnecessary,” she said, adding that a “drunk man in a park” does not equal a death penalty.
Gerardo Gonzalez said his brother was not a threat when he died at a press conference on Tuesday.
He said, "Alameda police officers murdered my brother."
The Alameda County Sheriff's Office and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office are also conducting independent investigations, and three police officers have been put on administrative leave. In addition, the city of Alameda has retained Louise Renne, a former San Francisco city attorney and president of the San Francisco Police Commission, to conduct its own investigation.
The city also released two audio recordings from people who called 911 to report a Hispanic man later identified as Mario Gonzalez, in addition to the body camera video.
Gonzalez has been loitering for about a half-hour, according to one witness, and appears to be removing store security tags from alcohol bottles. Gonzalez, according to another man, is talking to himself at a fence near the caller's backyard. He says, "He seems to be tweaking, but he's not doing anything wrong." “All he does is terrify my wife.”
The first officer on the scene asks on his radio if a nearby store has witnessed any recent robberies, identifying Gonzalez, who has two Walgreens shopping baskets, according to body camera video.
The cop, who introduces himself as Officer McKinley, proceeds to question Gonzalez, asking if he knows Alameda and if he is considering harming himself or others. Gonzalez has trouble keeping the conversation going or giving his name.
Seven minutes after the first officer, another officer arrives.
The first officer says, "Here's the strategy." “I need to tag you so I know who I'm speaking with — make sure you don't have any outstanding warrants or anything like that. If you come up with a scheme, please inform me that you will not be drinking in our parks. Then we can go our separate ways.”
“Is it a merry-go-round?” Gonzalez responds to the query.
Before attempting to arrest Gonzalez, the two officers ask for identification and order him to keep his hands out of his pockets.
After several minutes, the second officer asks, "Will you please put your hand behind your back and stop fighting us?"
Gonzalez is finally pushed to the ground facedown and handcuffed by the police. The first officer inquires, "What are we going to do?" “Just hold him pinned down?” says the narrator.
The officer later says, "It's all right, Mario." “We're going to look after you.”
Gonzalez's last name and birthday are requested by the first officer, who then advises him to continue speaking. He responds in whimpering bursts and then grunts. “Please don't do it,” he seems to say at one point.
A third officer is seen on Gonzalez's legs after about 4 1/2 minutes of body camera video shows Gonzalez stuck to the ground. “I don't want to risk what I have,” one officer says when asked if he should be rolled on his side.
The second officer remarks, pointing to Gonzalez's back, that "we have no weight on his chest, nothing." “No, no, no,” the second officer says as the first official attempts to change his position. “There is no weight, there is no weight, there is no weight.”
The officers find Gonzalez has become unresponsive a few seconds later. After checking for a pulse, they roll him onto his side, then push him onto his back and begin chest compressions.
After emergency medical personnel arrive, the first officer explains that Narcan, which can counteract overdoses, was administered. He describes how he went from combative to nonresponsive in a matter of seconds.
At Chauvin's trial, several experts testified that the prone position was unsafe because it could hinder breathing and that officers should place detainees on their sides as soon as possible.
Eric McKinley, Cameron Leahy, and James Fisher were the three officers placed on leave, according to a city spokesperson. When asked about Gonzalez's death on Tuesday, the police department referred to recent press releases about the incident.