3 police officers who restrained Mario Gonzalez, who died in their custody, will face no criminal charges

The county coroner’s office had classified Mario Gonzalez Arenales’ death as a homicide and listed the toxic effects of methamphetamine as the primary cause.

González, 26, died on April 19, 2021, after an encounter with three Alameda police officers who responded to a call that a person was “acting strangely and talking to themselves,” according to a March 30 report from the Alameda County district attorney’s office. Alameda is 15 miles from San Francisco.

Two nearly identical wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the City of Alameda, alleging that officers detained Gonzalez without reasonable suspicion and caused him to die by suffocation.

Attorney Julia Sherwin, on behalf of Gonzalez’s 5-year-old son, filed a lawsuit in December 2021, and Gonzalez’s mother, Edith Arenales, also filed a lawsuit in February 2022. Although the two claims are related, they will remain separate but will remain separate. go ahead. side by side, Sherwin told CNN.

Sherwin said he had also sent requests for a federal investigation, not only to US Attorney General Merrick Garland and his chief deputy Pamela Karlan, but also to the US Attorney and the FBI in the area. of the Bay. There has been no response, she said, “but since Nancy O’Malley refused to press criminal charges, I will renew my request for a federal investigation.”

Both lawsuits state that Gonzalez “appeared to be confused and possibly intoxicated at the time” but was “not a threat to himself or anyone else” and that he was not involved in any crime.

The decision to stop and arrest Gonzalez was “supported by reasonable suspicion and probable cause, but was also supported by officer safety concerns,” District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s report said.

The civil litigation brought by Gonzalez’s family is ongoing and “the City’s legal team is committed to defending the City in the pending litigation,” Sarah Henry, public information officer for the City of Alameda, told CNN. a statement.

“Once the officers attempted to lawfully detain Mr. Gonzalez, he physically resisted their efforts the entire time until he eventually became unresponsive,” the district attorney’s report says.

Officers Eric McKinley, James Fisher and Cameron Leahy controlled Gonzalez’s arms, back and legs while handcuffing his arms behind his back, the report said. González “continued to resist with his entire body, including his legs,” even after being handcuffed, according to the report.

Arenales’ lawsuit says officers placed “significant weight on his back, shoulders, neck, and legs for more than five minutes in violation of generally accepted law enforcement standards, while Mr. Gonzalez struggled to breathe.” .

Nearly four minutes after he was handcuffed, Gonzalez became unresponsive, the report says. They started cardiopulmonary resuscitation and called for medical assistance. González was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

“The officers’ approach to the detention and arrest of Mr. Gonzalez and their use of force appeared reasonable under the circumstances,” the report says.

The report indicates that, according to the autopsy, González “did not present lethal injuries.”

Alison Berry Wilkinson, an attorney representing the three officers, told CNN that “they are grateful that the district attorney has recognized that this tragic death was an unintended consequence of their legitimate and lawful actions.”

Adante Pointer, an attorney for Edith Arenales, Gonzalez’s mother, told CNN the family is disappointed the officers are not being criminally prosecuted, but the decision is not a surprise.

“It is a sad day when political expediency and obvious conflicts of interest seemingly trump principles of equal justice under the law, as happened in the death (of) Mario… and of many other men, women and children killed by the police.” said the pointer.

In the report, the district attorney’s office quoted the National Association of Medical Examiners as saying that homicide “is a neutral term and in no way affects the determination of the District Attorney’s Office in the criminal context.”

The prosecutor added in the report that “a homicide can be legal or illegal.”

The officers remain on paid administrative leave until all investigations are complete, according to the City of Alameda, which is running its own independent investigation into the death.

The encounter occurred a day before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd and occurred in the context of the police killing of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy in Chicago. .

CNN’s Stella Chan contributed to this report.

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