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On Thursday, three police officers whose fatal encounter with Mario Gonzalez on April 19, 2021 at a Northern California park last year were cleared in a criminal inquiry.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office says three Alameda city police officers involved in the in-custody death of Mario Gonzalez were “not criminally liable.”
Officer accountability remains a pipedream.
A 40-page report from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office concluded that the officers’ decision to detain and arrest Mario Gonzalez, 26, was “objectively reasonable,” the city of Alameda said in a statement.
The city also stated Thursday that the officers, James Fisher, Cameron Leahy and Eric McKinley, whose peace officer power was suspended until the investigations conclude, are still on paid administrative leave.
According to The Mercury News, Gonzalez was sitting in Scout Park just off the 800 block of Oak Street in Alameda when those officers responded to a residential call fearful of his presence on April 19, 2021.
Officer bodycam shows Mario Gonzalez died much like George Floyd
Several minutes after those officers pressed him to the ground while trying to arrest him on suspicion of shoplifting, a misdemeanor, Mario Gonzalez became unresponsive. He was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The officers’ use of force was also reasonable “considering the agency policies, the totality of the circumstances and the officers’ stated rationale,” the statement says.
“Mr. Gonzalez did not die due to asphyxiation, nor did he complain to the officers that he could not breathe,” the report says.
Last December, an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office coroner’s division report called Gonzalez’s death a homicide, saying that he had suffered a heart attack brought on by methamphetamine use, as well as the stress from and restraint during the altercation, morbid obesity, and alcoholism.
The Gonzalez Family has to fight and heal at the same time.
His family has issued a statement reading in part, “Our family demands that these officers be fired immediately and that District Attorney O’Malley bring criminal charges against all those involved in his murder. If the County is unwilling to bring justice, the State must intervene.”
According to Julia Sherwin, a family attorney, “Little Mario has just been missing his father terribly. He still asks his mother why his Papi doesn’t wake up.”
Members of Mario Gonzalez’s heartbroken family have filed a pair of lawsuits over his death, with a civil complaint alleging negligence in December and a second in February alleging “unjustified deadly force.”