Coming to you live from the San Francisco area, prepare yourselves for a new episode of “Cops on Trial.” Police in the neighboring city of Almeida released a bodycam video that shows a drunk/disoriented man being pinned to the ground by officers responding to a 911 call, not getting back on his feet. He died on the scene. But wait. There’s more…
The video shows Mario Gonzalez, 26, being pinned to the ground in a local park he’d been stumbling around in for well over five minutes before the officer’s realized he was no longer breathing. While Gonzalez’s family contends he died from the use of excessive force, the cops, as expected, are whistling a different tune.
The police report claims that as the officers were attempting to handcuff Gonzalez, who was being combative, he developed a medical emergency so they switched gears and were attempting to save his drunken behind.
It took nearly an hour to get to the point of Gonzalez dying. Much of the video is of the officers talking to a man who is clearly confused and disoriented. In the audio portion, Gonzalez can be heard unintelligibly attempting to answer a series of uncomplicated questions without much luck.
The struggle ensued when Gonzalez couldn’t produce any form of identification. This brought him to his senses long enough to know what was about to happen, and he was correct. As the two officers snapped the cuffs off of their belts with lightning precision, Gonzalez heard the distinctive sound he knew all too well and decided it wasn’t going to happen. Not today.
One of the officers is heard saying, “We’re going to take care of you, OK, we’re going to take care of you.” When that didn’t work the same officer is later heard saying, “I think you just had too much to drink today, OK? That’s all. Mario, just please stop fighting us.” Even with his head in la-la land, Gonzales could scrap.
Gonzalez weighed in at around 250 pounds and it wasn’t all fat. Once he was finally taken down in a pile of woodchips he can be seen and heard grunting, groaning, and shouting in advanced sailor language. Here the important part. At no time did either officer kneel Gonzalez’s neck.
As current and proper police protocol dictates, one of the arresting officers places an elbow on the man’s neck while simultaneously placing his knee on Gonzalez’s shoulder. Even this new and less forceful technique is only to be used as a last-ditch effort, but this certainly met the qualifications. Even still, the officer is heard to say, “He’s lifting my whole body weight up.”
What’s more in question is the role the other officer played by placing his knee squarely on Gonzalez’s back and leaving it there. After about four minutes, Gonzales, who appears to be gasping for air, can be heard saying, “I didn’t do nothing, OK?”
Shortly thereafter, and with a knee still firmly pressing on his back, Gonzalez’s voice begins to weaken as he continues protesting. At around the five-minute mark, his voice goes silent as he drifts into unconsciousness.
One officer is then heard asking, “Think we can roll him on his side?” His partner, lost in a sea of adrenaline and likely not realizing the fight was over, answers with, “I don’t want to lose what I got, man.” Realizing the severity of the situation the officer replies back to his partner in a panicked voice, “we got no weight on his chest?” He repeats, “No! No weight … no weight.” He then says, “He’s going unresponsive.”
It was only then that the officers rolled Gonzalez over and began CPR to no avail. He was later pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.
His family said Gonzalez not only had a 4-year-old son but that he also took care of his 22-year-old autistic brother. But a rosy picture can’t cover up the facts. The man was belligerent and he had obviously been bothering other people trying to enjoy the park. For them to call 911, it must have been extreme.
Their suspect was unintelligible, had the strength of a herd of Oxen, and was highly combative. Now. Here’s an uncomplicated question for you. What would you have done?
The family is sticking by their guns by saying what turned into a disaster should have been a peaceful confrontation. Gonzalez was unarmed so why the deadly treatment? Did they not see in the video where this is what the officer’s initial attempt was? Neither cop thought to ask the man if he had a young son or was taking care of anyone.
They utilized the last method they had, only out of necessity. What should they have done? Let him stumble away to annoy and possibly harm someone else? The autopsy will reveal Gonzalez’s actual cause of death, and though we rarely say anything like this, should it matter? You reap what you sow, so…
Simply from a curiosity standpoint, how does this matter set with you? How would you have handled it?