The city of Alameda on Tuesday released body camera footage of an April 19 incident in which a young Oakland man died after police officers pinned him to the ground during an attempt to handcuff him.
Mario Gonzalez, 26, stopped breathing in Alameda police custody after what police described as a "physical altercation" with officers in a small park, according to a statement released by the Alameda Police Department on April 20.
According to police, Gonzalez "appeared to be under the influence and a suspect in a possible theft," and experienced a "medical emergency" after officers tried to place his hands behind his back. Gonzalez was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Recording of 911 Call Reporting Gonzalez
Officers were responding to reports of a man "talking to himself" and "not making any sense" on a neighbor's front yard. The 911 recording of the call is including in the video. The caller adds, "He seems like he's tweaking. But he's not doing anything wrong, he's just scaring my wife."
Another 911 caller reported the same man, now in the park nearby, who he says has been there for about half-an-hour appearing to be breaking the security tags off bottles of alcohol.
'Please Stop Resisting Us'
In the hourlong video of the deadly encounter, which shows footage from two different body cameras, two officers can be seen approaching Gonzalez, who is standing by himself in the park next to two shopping baskets.
The officers question Gonzalez about what he is doing in the park and ask for identification. Gonzalez seems calm but mumbles a series of incoherent responses and does not appear to be fully lucid.
When asked if he lives in Alameda, Gonzalez says, "I haven't gotten a house yet" and briefly puts one hand in his pocket. The officers tell him to take his hands out of his pockets before approaching him. Without telling him he is under arrest, each officer grabs one of Gonzalez's arms and proceeds to put his hands behind his back.
When he bends over and resists being handcuffed, one officer says, "Please stop resisting us, OK? Don't fight us." "It's not that, there's something else," Gonzalez can be heard saying before asking them to stop. At one point, while the officers are still trying to get Gonzalez's hands behind his back, one of them says, "I think we talked before, Mario. This is all coming back to me now."
'He's Going Unresponsive'
As Gonzalez continues to resist being handcuffed, the two officers throw him to the ground and pin him down on his stomach, pressing their elbows and knees into what appears to be his back, and holding his hands. Gonzalez keeps grunting and briefly shouting but his voice is muffled.
"He's lifting my whole body weight up," one of the officers with his knee into Gonzalez's back says. Gonzalez remains pinned face-first into the ground for approximately five minutes as he makes desperate attempts to resist before losing consciousness.
"He's going unresponsive," the officer says before Gonzalez is rolled over, his pulse is checked, and CPR is administered by the officers.
"He went from combative to non-responsive almost immediately and then we started compressions," one of the officers tells an EMT from the Alameda Fire Department, before Gonzalez is lifted into an ambulance and brought to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Watch the full video below:
Family: Gonzalez was Killed 'In the Same Manner That They Killed George Floyd'
Gonzalez's family, who viewed the video footage before it was released to the public, accused the police of murdering him by using excessive force and escalating a situation that was entirely avoidable. Gonzalez was healthy and had no known medical conditions, they said.
"Yesterday, my family and I saw the footage and we know what really happened. Alameda police officers murdered my brother Mario," said Gerardo Gonzalez, Mario's younger brother, at a Tuesday press conference and rally outside of the Alameda Police Department, shortly before the video was publicly released.
"My mother was heartbroken to see Mario's last moments," he added. "It was painful to watch the violence and disregard for his humanity. The police killed my brother in the same manner that they killed George Floyd."
Gerardo also noted that the officers used unnecessary force when they could have just asked him to call his family members and they would have come and picked him up. "There was no reason to detain him, let alone kill him. The APD took a calm situation and made a fatal," he said.
The officers involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave, according to the Alameda Police Department. It added that there will be separate investigations into the incident, including criminal investigations by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and Alameda County District Attorney's Office, and an independent outside investigation by a private law firm hired by the city.