California police scrutinized over Mario Gonzalez’s death, bodycam footage released

California police scrutinized over Mario Gonzalez’s death, bodycam footage released

04/28/2021

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The Northern California city of Alameda on Tuesday released body camera footage showing police pinning Mario Gonzalez to the ground for more than five minutes before the 26-year-old died in custody.

The footage was released following a growing outcry from family members and residents in the city. Family members had accused police of murdering Gonzalez and lying about it. In a news release last week, Alameda police said there was a scuffle on April 19 as officers attempted to put his hands behind his back, and that Gonzalez had a “medical emergency.” 

The city said it is “committed to full transparency and accountability in the aftermath of Mr. Gonzalez’s death.”

The death is under investigation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, the county district attorney’s office and a former San Francisco city attorney hired by the city to lead an independent probe.

Family members have questioned the police account.

“What I saw was different from what I was told,” his brother, Gerardo Gonzalez told FOX 2 of the San Francisco Bay Area. “The medical emergency [that police described] was because they were on his back while he was lying on the ground. It was brought by the officers on top of his head.” 

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Gonzalez died on April 19, a day before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

In the nearly hour-long video from two officers’ body cameras, an officer was seen approaching Gonzalez at a park after police said they responded to two separate reports of a man who was believed to be intoxicated and suspected of theft. Upon arrival, an officer questions Gonzalez — who appeared to have two bottles of alcohol with him.

A screenshot from body camera footage of Mario Gonzalez, who died in police custody last week.
(Alameda Police Department)

“You come up with a plan, let me know you’re not going to be drinking in our parks over here. And then we can be on our merry way,” one officer says. 

Gonzalez appeared incoherent and replied, “Merry-go-round?”

Officers asked him to produce his name and identification, according to the footage. After Gonzalez fails to produce any identification, one officer tells him to “please put your hand behind your back … please stop resisting us.”

The officers eventually push Gonzalez to the ground face down on some wood chips while they restrain him, the video appeared to show.

“We’re going to take care of you, OK, we’re going to take care of you,” an officer says.

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At one point, an officer appears to put an elbow on his neck and a knee on his shoulder. One officer also appears to put a knee on his back before leaving it there for about four minutes as a seemingly out-of-breath Gonzalez says, “I didn’t do nothing, OK?”

When an officer asks if they should roll him on his side, another replies, “I don’t want to lose what I got,” the video shows. 

“We have no weight on his chest, nothing,” one officer noted. After attempting to adjust his position, another says, “No, no, no. No weight, no weight, no weight.”

Soon after, Gonzalez appears to lose consciousness, the video shows. 

The officers then roll him over and perform CPR. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

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The Alameda Police Department, in a statement last week, said three officers involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave, FOX 2 reported. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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