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Vigil held on 3rd anniversary of Mario Gonzalez' death in police custody

Vigil held on 3rd anniversary of Mario Gonzalez' fatal arrest
Vigil held on 3rd anniversary of Mario Gonzalez' fatal arrest 03:57

ALAMEDA -- Three years after Mario Gonzalez died in police custody, his family held a vigil Friday to remember his life and celebrate news from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. 

On Thursda, the DA's Office announced they're filing charges against the officers once cleared in Gonzalez' death. 

Gonzalez's mother, Edith Arenales, says she has prayed for this day. 

"Thinking and thinking, it's going to happen it's going to happen, thank God they opened the case again," she said. 

Police body camera video showed the interactions that led up to Gonzalez's death in an Alameda park back in 2021. Officers talked with Gonzalez for about nine minutes before attempting to restrain him. He appeared incoherent and resisted arrest, prompting officers to take him to the ground. 

The coroner's report ruled Gonzalez died from the toxic effects of meth and the physical stress of restraint.

"My son's not here anymore but I'm here, I'm still fighting for him," Arenales said. "We're always missing him."

Former district attorney Nancy O'Malley reviewed the case and cleared the three officers of criminal wrongdoing. 

But current DA Pamela Price's Office filed involuntary manslaughter charges just as the criminal statute of limitations was about to expire.

Arenales says those charges are like a gift on a day that marks one of the most painful of her life.

"Tomorrow is my birthday but this is my present today" she said. "When I received the phone call, we reopened the case."

If convicted the officers could face up to four years in prison. Family friend Amanda Majail-Blanco says that's a start.

"We all know that obviously we need more justice than that but that is obviously a step in the right direction to holding police officers responsible," she said. 

Gonzalez' brother Jerry hopes these charges prevent similar situations from ever happening.

"It's a major win and a step in the right direction" Gonzales said. "After they get out, they should probably be forced to find another career."

Last year, the city of Alameda agreed to pay $11 million  to Gonzalez's family to settle a civil rights lawsuit. 

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