California City Settles $11 Million Claim: Three Police Officers Killed a Man by Suffocation


Three police officers are charged with killing a man in 2021 by sitting on him and suffocating him. To escape a hearing, the city in the San Francisco Bay Area agreed to pay $11 million to settle the claims.

The city of Alameda and three police officers were found responsible for Mario Gonzalez’s death on April 19, 2021, by restraint-asphyxiation. Gonzalez’s seven-year-old son won a $11 million settlement against them this week. In Gonzalez’s family’s civil rights suit, police officers were named. Earlier this year, a federal judge upheld some claims against them, saying they showed “reckless disregard” for Gonzalez’s death. A trial was set to happen.

González died after being held by three Alameda police officers at Scout Park because they thought he was drunk and could hurt himself. Body camera video shows that Eric McKinley and James Fisher, two police officers from Alameda, put all of their weight on Gonzalez while he was shackled and lying on the ground for more than five minutes, suffocating him.

Gonzalez’s lawyers say that his civil rights were abused and that he should not have been detained because he had not done anything wrong. Police officers McKinley, Fisher, and Cameron Leahy, as well as Randy Fenn, who was acting as police chief at the time, are named as defendants in the suit.

It was decided by the Alameda County Sheriff-Coroner that Gonzalez was killed. The case is still being looked into by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

A second autopsy, done by forensic scientist Bennet I. Omalu, proved that Gonzalez died of restraint asphyxia and that he had deep bruises on his back from being hit hard and brain swelling from not getting enough air.

González’s lawyers said in a statement that “Mario Gonzalez never attacked or threatened any officer and never actively resisted any officer.” When police finally rolled Mr. Gonzalez over, he was already dead and not moving. His death was caused by the police officer’s actions and force.

Around the time the trial was set to start in November, the city filed an appeal against the court’s decision not to grant qualified immunity. They wanted to delay the trial for more than a year. Next, the two sides started talking about a deal, which finished Thursday night with approval from the Alameda City Council.

This is what the city said: “It will also pay Gonzalez’s mother $350,000.”

“The city of Alameda remains committed to full transparency and accountability in the tragic death of Mario Gonzalez and extends our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones,” officials said in a press release.

Andrea Cortez, Gonzalez’s son’s mother, described him as “a peaceful, calm person.”

In a statement, she said, “The police should have known better ways to deal with Mario.” “He wasn’t hurting anyone, and it was clear he was lost.” My son’s dad might still be here if they had rolled him over on his side when the first officer told them to.

Lawyer Michael Haddad said that the deal should make police officers across the country think.

Haddad said, “Even a kindergartener knows that if you kneel on someone’s back, they can’t breathe.” There are repercussions for police officers who do such egregious wrongdoing that goes against everything they’ve been taught.

Julia Sherwin, the family’s lawyer, agreed that the payment backs up their side of the disaster.

“I hope that when little Mario grows up, he is proud of himself for holding the police responsible for the death of his father,” Sherwin said.

Resource: courthousenews

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