Civil rights lawyer asks U.S. Lawyer Basic to research Alameda police in wake of man’s demise


Mario Gonzalez from Oakland plays an instrument. Photo: Courtesy of the Gonzalez family.

A civil rights attorney for the family of a man who died in police custody in Alameda has asked the U.S. Attorney General to investigate the training procedures and oversight of the department’s officers and dispatchers, particularly given residents did not call 911 Ask for help about Mario Gonzalez who showed up at his homes drunk last month.

Oakland-based attorney Julia Sherwin wrote the letter to AG Merrick B. Garland and Assistant Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan on Monday asking for their outside eyes on what happened to Gonzalez on April 19.

It was then that the 26-year-old Oakland man died after officers kneeled on his back for a few minutes and arrested him after neighbors called an emergency number to report that he was hanging out in a small park on Oak Street Seemed to be drunk. Another resident wondered if he had stolen a bottle or two of alcohol.

The body camera video released by the police shows Gonzalez gasping for breath and dying on the scene.

“We are extremely concerned about the training and surveillance that the police department has provided to the officers who killed Mario and the dispatcher who sent the police in the first place,” Sherwin wrote.

Sherwin added that the City of Alameda did not provide their office or the public with the information their dispatcher gave police officers about Gonzalez. This information would be important as it shows what the officers were informed about before they got up.

The city of Alameda confirmed to the KTVU that the police are often sent to make non-emergency calls.

It has not yet been determined whether the AG office will comply with the application or not.

Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said she was unable to comment “because the matter is the subject of ongoing litigation”.

Sherwin said she hoped the federal investigation would coincide with the Alameda County’s homicide investigation as well as a separate third-party investigation requested by the City of Alameda.

Mario Gonzalez’s mother talks about her son’s death

KTVU sat down with Edith Arenales, the mother of Mario Gonzalez, who died in Alameda police custody.

This is not the first case of asphyxia asphyxia in Alameda.

In December 2018, Iraq war veteran Shelby Gattenby died after being pounded to the ground by Alameda police. He was also verbally abused several times.

In this case, one of the officers even instructed another officer to use his body weight to hold Gattenby in place.

“After Gattenby’s death, the Alameda Police Department should have revised its policies and training to bring it into line with the Constitution and outlaw prone, weighted restraint,” wrote Sherwin. “If they had done that, Mario would still be alive.”

In addition to attempting to cuff Gonzalez face down on his stomach, which experts have warned against most police training courses, Sherwin said the fourth amendment prohibits police officers from arresting anyone unless the officers have “probable reason.” “to assume that the person has committed a particular crime.

And Sherwin said there was absolutely no likely reason to arrest Gonzalez. There is no evidence that he stole anything, and there is no evidence that he was so drunk that he would harm himself or others, she said.

While the first answering officer was talking to Gonzalez, he radioed a colleague and asked him to go to the Walgreen store and see if they had any “walk-offs” or people stealing goods.

A few minutes later that official said “negative” on the radio, which meant that Walgreen was not complaining that Gonzalez or anyone else had stolen goods. Therefore, Sherwin said the officers had no likely reason to arrest Mario for theft.

Sherwin also said it is illegal for police officers to arrest someone for being drunk in public unless that person is so drunk that they cannot look after themselves or blocks a public right of way, such as passed out on the sidewalk to become . Gonzalez did not meet any of these legal standards, she said.

The officers’ attorney, Alison Berry Wilkinson, said police arrested Gonzalez for his own safety to prevent him from stumbling on a tree stump.

“But that claim is completely without legal basis and, frankly, ridiculous,” said Sherwin. “The United States Constitution prohibits the police from arresting anyone under such circumstances.”

And regarding an open bottle of alcohol in the park, Sherwin said at most, it’s a less than a misdemeanor violation with a maximum possible fine of $ 250.

Sherwin explained what they thought the police would have been a reasonable response: offer Gonzalez a ride home or see if they could call a relative to pick him up. Another answer would have been to tell the neighbors that Gonzalez had committed no crimes and was minding his own business.

Gonzalez leaves behind two brothers, including 23-year-old Efrain, who has severe autism and whose primary carer was Gonzalez, and his mother, who will bury her son Tuesday.

“Mario Gonzalez was not a hardened criminal,” wrote Sherwin. “He was a loving, peaceful, hardworking man and a devoted father, son and brother. On April 19, 2021, Mario was clearly confused, but he has not committed a crime. And he was the gentle, calm man his family always has known. His death was completely unnecessary. “

A GoFundMe has been set up for the Gonzalez family.

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at [email protected] or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez

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