Three California police officers are under investigation following the death of a Latino man who was pinned to the ground for more than five minutes in a video-recorded arrest.
The death in Alameda happened the same day a jury in Minneapolis began deliberating in the George Floyd case. Mr Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt with his knee on the black man’s neck.
The family of 26-year-old Mario Gonzalez accuse police of using excessive force and escalating what should have been a minor encounter with the unarmed man on April 19.
“The police killed my brother in the same manner they killed George Floyd,” Gerardo Gonzalez said.
Body cam video shows man gasping for air
Mr Gonzalez stopped breathing following a scuffle with police on the morning of April 19 at a park, where officers had confronted him after receiving 911 calls that said he appeared disoriented or drunk.
A police statement said Gonzalez had a medical emergency after officers tried to handcuff him.
Video lasting close to an hour from two officers’ body cameras shows police talking to a seemingly dazed Gonzalez. The third officer arrives later.
When Mr Gonzalez doesn’t produce any identification, the officers are seen trying to force his hands behind his back to handcuff him, but he resists and they take him to the ground.
Mr Gonzalez is seen grunting and shouting as he lies face down while the officers restrain him. One officer puts an elbow on his neck and a knee on his shoulder.
“He’s lifting my whole body weight up,” an officer says at one point.
One officer also appears to put a knee on his back and leaves it there for about four minutes as Mr Gonzalez gasps for air, saying, “I didn’t do nothing, OK?”
After about five minutes he seems to lose consciousness.
Shortly before he stops breathing, one officer asks the other: “Think we can roll him on his side?”
The other answers, “I don’t want to lose what I got, man.”
The video shows officers rolling Mr Gonzalez over and performing CPR. They are also seen administering at least two doses of Narcan, which is given to counteract opiate overdoses.
Mr Gonzalez was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Autopsy findings on the cause of death have not yet been released.
Police officers placed on paid leave
The death is under investigation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, the district attorney’s office and a former San Francisco city attorney hired by Alameda to lead an independent probe.
The three officers involved in the arrest have been placed on paid leave.
Officer James Fisher has been with the Alameda Police Department since 2010, while the others, Cameron Leahy and Eric McKinley, joined in 2018, the city said.