After a private screening of a body camera recording in the last moments of his life, the family of a man who died during a kind of “scuffle” with San Francisco police is contradicting the official version of how he died.
Gerardo Gonzalez and his attorney, Julia Sherwin, claimed they saw three officers throwing their weight on Mario Gonzalez’s back on April 19 at the far end of Pocket Park in an interview with KTVU on Tuesday morning.
Both officers said that one of the officers placed his knee on the 26-year-stomach. old’s Sherwin estimated that the nightmare lasted about five minutes.
“What I saw was different from what I was told,” Gerardo Gonzalez said. “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.”
However, Alameda police posted the nearly hour-long video late Tuesday afternoon, which revealed an officer’s elbow on Gonzalez’s neck and his knee on the Oakland man’s right back. Gonzalez’s leg will sometimes move to the base of his spine.
Gonzalez had two beer bottles with him when the cop entered, at least one of which was free after police got a warning about him allegedly being intoxicated in the park.
When Gonzalez refused to fork over his papers, officers attempted to handcuff him. While no statute mandates individuals to report themselves to authorities, most lawyers counsel their clients to do so.
Gonzalez, who weighs about 250 pounds, was heard grunting and shouting “Ahhhh.” as he laid helpless on the grass.
The three policemen on the scene, who were attempting to handcuff Gonzalez, were exhaling heavily. Meanwhile, the officers can be heard speaking to Gonzalez in a gentle tone, telling him his name and birthday.
One officer expresses his concern that he has consumed so much alcohol. An officer asks another if he believes they should roll Gonzalez on his side before warning him to avoid kicking. “I don’t wanna lose what I got, man.” the officer says.
After that, Gonzalez seems to pass out.
One officer claims, “We have no weight on his chest,”
He then comes to a halt in front of another soldier, who seems to be about to place weight on his shoulders, and says: “No! No weight, weight, no weight.”
However, it is too late. Gonzalez is turned over and chest compressions are started. Gonzalez died in the hospital afterward.
His family has stated that he was in good health and had no documented medical issues.
Sherwin, a specialist in punishment asphyxiation who was called in as a consultant to help defend former police officer Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd case, said, “This would have felt like torture,”
Gonzalez was also a large individual, and according to Sherwin, officers are taught to recognize that a protruding stomach impairs someone’s capacity to breathe.
On Monday at Alameda City Hall, Gerardo Gonzalez said it was “heartbreaking” to see the video with his mother, Edith Arenales, who observed her firstborn baby, a chef and construction worker with a 4-year-old son who was the primary caregiver for his child, Efrain, who has autism.
Gonzalez never attempted to kick or assault the police, according to Sherwin, who showed the family the body camera footage of an “Officer McKinley”
Gonzalez seems to be disoriented and not actually cooperating with the police, but he is still not deliberately attacking them, considering officers’ claims that he is resisting.
Other than disclosing the police-worn body camera video, Alameda police had no immediate reaction to the family’s comment.
The Oakland man had a “medical emergency” after a “scuffle” after cops attempted to apprehend him and place his hands behind his back, according to police. Gonzalez was detained without the use of any guns, according to police. The officers’ weight being placed on top of Gonzalez was not stated.
Gonzalez was apprehended on the 800 block of Oak Street about 10:45 a.m., according to Alameda police, after officers responded to two different calls of an intoxicated individual accused of robbery.
The three officers involved have been placed on paid unpaid leave, according to a statement released by the Alameda Police Department last week.
In the meantime, the city of Alameda has retained Louise Renne of Renne Public Law Group in San Francisco to conduct an investigative inquiry in addition to the Alameda County Sheriff and District Attorney that will be prosecuting Gonzalez’s murder.
Interim Chief Randy Fenn said that the “primary duty of police officers,” is to defend human life, and he expressed his condolences to Gonzalez’s family in a tweet.
Sherwin sees several similarities to the George Floyd scenario, not only about how Gonzalez claims to have died, but also in the Alameda police account, or lack thereof.
The initial news release on Floyd’s death, named “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction” was re-circulated on the internet moments after Chauvin was accused of murdering Floyd last May, revealing how police never revealed the whole account of Chauvin sitting on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.
Any description of officers holding Floyd on the ground with a knee on his stomach, or any indication of how long this “interaction” continued, is missing from the almost 200-word post. It’s published in a passive manner, with glaring omissions about what happened.
Gonzalez’s fans are reading the Alameda police department’s news release in the same way.
“There was no relation to reality,” Sherwin said of the original police news release on Gonzalez’s death, which said that he died of a “medical emergency” after a scuffle. “Police often give a false narrative.”