New footage released by the Alameda Police Department on Tuesday shows cops pinning a man to the ground for about five minutes before he becomes unresponsive. The man, 26-year-old Mario Gonzalez, was later pronounced dead.
Police released footage of the incident on Tuesday in the wake of criticism from Gonzalez’s family members, who say he was murdered by the officers. “Everything we saw in that video was unnecessary,” his brother, Gerardo, said in a news conference on Tuesday. “APD took a calm situation and made it fatal.”
Gonzalez was standing in a park in Alameda, just south of Oakland, when police approached him on April 19 — just one day before Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. Police say Gonzalez was a possible suspect in a theft nearby. They also released two 911 calls from people who reported that Gonzalez had been loitering and talking to himself.
The video, nearly an hour long, includes body-camera footage from multiple officers. It shows cops approaching Gonzalez in the park, where he is standing with a basket of cans. Officers ask Gonzalez to identify himself, among other questions. He appears confused throughout much of the conversation. About one minute and 45 seconds into a shorter version of the video, officers wrestle him to the ground, then pin him, and eventually pull his hands behind his back and into handcuffs after a struggle.
It is difficult to tell how much pressure officers were exerting on Gonzalez, or where exactly they were on top of him, given the close vantage point of the body-worn camera. Throughout, officers ask Gonzalez to stop resisting and ask him questions about who he is, which he sometimes answers in between cries of anguish. At one point, an officer says, “We have no weight on his chest — nothing,” and a second officer says, “No weight, no weight, no weight.”
After he is visibly handcuffed and still lying prone, one officer asks, “Should we roll him over on his side?,” and another responds, “I don’t want to lose what I got.” Seconds later, Gonzalez quits responding or moving. He then appears unresponsive, and officers report they cannot find a pulse before beginning to administer CPR.
Police initially characterized Gonzalez’s death as resulting from a “medical emergency” that came after a “scuffle.”
The three officers involved have been put on paid administrative leave. Police say three investigations into the incident are under way.