Saturday, May 25, 2024

No Charges Filed Against Police Officers Who Killed 26-year-old Latino Father

On April 19, 2021, police in the San Francisco Bay Area city knelt on Mario Gonzalez’s body for four minutes, until he died. Almost a year later, the county’s District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley, announced that no charges will be filed against the officers who killed Gonzalez.

Mario Gonzalez was a 26-year-old Latino father of one when police killed him. Body camera footage, released later that month after an outcry from his family, showed that Gonzalez calmly spoke with officers for nearly nine minutes before they made him put his hands behind his back, then one officer knelt on him for four minutes until he stopped breathing and lost his pulse.

Police claimed Gonzalez died at the hospital, but the video showed that he had stopped breathing on the scene and one officer declared “no pulse” right after officers began administering CPR. The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave and will remain that way until an independent investigation by the Alameda police department concludes.

The D.A.’s report describes the officers’ “struggle” while on top of Gonzalez. Even after he was handcuffed, lying face down on the ground with officers on top of him, the report describes Gonzalez as having physically resisted because he was moving his legs. D.A., Nancy O’Malley, said the “evidence does not justify criminal charges.”

Gonzalez’s family has long been advocating for the officers involved — Eric McKinley, James Fisher, and Cameron Leahy — to be charged with homicide. In a report from December 2021, the Alameda County coroner’s office declared Gonzalez’s death a homicide. The family has filed two federal civil rights lawsuits, on behalf of Gonzalez’s mother and one on behalf of his son.

At the time of his death, Gonzalez had been caring for both his son and his autistic brother full-time. For his family, the aftermath of his death has felt like a nightmare. His son, who is 5 years old and named after his father, will often ask where his dad is and when he’s coming home.

“Mario was a beautiful person, very respectful, full of love. He didn’t deserve to die,” his mother expressed.