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Alameda Police Bodycam Video Shows Struggle That Led To Mario Gonzalez's In-Custody Death

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) -- Alameda police on Tuesday released body-worn camera video showing officers struggling and grappling with Mario Gonzalez in an attempt to handcuff him, and then pinning him on the ground for more than five minutes, where he became unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.

Police said they contacted Gonzalez as a suspect in a possible theft on April 19 in the 800 block of Oak Street and he allegedly appeared to be under the influence. According to police, when officers attempted to detain him, officers struggled to get him to put his arms behind his back and he suffered a medical emergency.

UPDATE: Alameda Police Officers Involved in Deadly Struggle with Mario Gonzalez Identified

However, Gonzalez's family said Gonzalez was healthy and had no medical conditions and are seeking criminal charges against the three officers involved. The family is also demanding an independent investigation into the actions of the officers and into their training, as well as the officers' names released.

"The police killed my brother in the same manner that they killed George Floyd," said his brother Jerry Gonzalez at a press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday. "There was no reason to detain him, let alone kill him. The APD took a calm situation and made it fatal."

His family said Gonzalez was the father of a 4-year-old and caretaker for a brother with special needs.

The video released Tuesday shows two officers approaching Gonzalez at the end of a dead-end street. They speak with him for about 10 minutes before attempting to put his hands behind his back as they repeatedly ask and plead with Gonzalez to stop resisting. However, Gonzalez resists for several minutes before officers bring him down to the ground, where Gonzalez continued to resist officers forcing his hands behind his back.

WARNING: Graphic video, viewer discretion advised

Alameda Police Department body-worn camera footage April 19, 2021 by City of Alameda on YouTube

On the video, Gonzalez is heard gasping and crying out as officers pressed their body weight on his back, neck and shoulder, including one officer pressing his knee for several minutes in Gonzalez's back.

"He's lifting my whole body weight up," one officer is heard saying during the struggle.

After more than five minutes, Gonzalez stops struggling. One officer is heard asking: "Think we can roll him on his side?" but the other answers, "I don't want to lose what I got, man."

After the officers determine Gonzalez is unresponsive and not breathing, they begin administering life-saving measures before medics arrive to take over.

"The footage shows officers on top of Mario while he was face down on the ground. They had their weight on his head and his back. He was complying and they continued to pin him down with their weight," said brother Jerry Gonzalez. "It was painful to watch the violence and disregard for his humanity."

"It ended horrifically. We don't want anyone to die in contact with the police department," said Interim Chief Randy Fenn with the Alameda Police Department. However, Fenn went on to add that the body cam footage only shows part of the story and the department is waiting on the results of the autopsy to come back.

Gonzalez's family, however, said they watched police murder their loved one.

"The officer killed him for no reason," said Gonzalez's mother Edith Arenales. "He's not a criminal at all. They don't have the right to kill him. We're human, not cucarachas."

City officials said last week that former San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne has been hired to conduct an independent investigation into Gonzalez's death. Renne has also served as a former president of the San Francisco Police Commission and was California Deputy Attorney General for 11 years.

The city's announced the action after Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft called for an independent investigation while attending a vigil held in remembrance of Gonzalez last week.

Two other investigations will also be conducted by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

The city said in a statement it was "committed to full transparency and accountability in the aftermath of Mr. Gonzalez's death."

The three officers involved incident have been placed on paid administrative leave.

Andrea Nakano contributed to this report.

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