Apr 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

California man dies after police pin him down for five minutes

Mario Arenales Gonzalez stands in a park, as seen on body camera footage

Body camera footage of Mario Arenales Gonzalez in Alameda, Calif., courtesy of the City of Alameda.

A man in California died in police custody April 19 after Alameda Police Department officers pinned him facedown for nearly five minutes, as shown by body camera footage released Tuesday, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The death of Mario Arenales Gonzalez, 26, came the day before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter charges over George Floyd's death. Chauvin pinned Floyd to the pavement by holding a knee to his neck.

  • Gonzalez's death also comes nearly a month after Chicago police shot and killed Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Mexican American. Attorneys and Latino community leaders have asked for a federal investigation into Toledo's death.

The video shows officers detaining Gonzalez, and they can be heard asking him to stop resisting arrest before appearing to pin him down for about four and a half minutes. They began chest compressions on Gonzalez and checked for a pulse after he became unresponsive.

State of play: Three officers — Cameron Leahy, Eric McKinley, and James Fisher — are on administrative leave following Gonzalez's death, per the Times, and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office each have investigations underway.

  • A separate investigation is being led by Louise Renne, a former California Deputy Attorney General and president of the San Francisco Police Commission.

What they're saying: “Alameda police officers murdered my brother,” Gerardo Gonzalez said at a Tuesday press conference.

  • The initial Alameda police report claims that "physical altercation ensued" after officers tried to arrest Gonzalez, and that he "had a medical emergency" as he was being detained and later died at a local hospital.
  • Julia Sherwin, a lawyer representing the family of Gonzalez, compared the initial Alameda police report to how Minneapolis police first described Floyd's death — which made no mention of the kind of force Chauvin used on the 46-year-old Black man.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state that Gonzalez died on April 19.

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