What we know about the death of Mario Gonzalez after police pinned him down for 4 minutes

What we know about the death of Mario Gonzalez after police pinned him down for 4 minutes


It’s a video that has drawn comparison to that of the George Floyd killing.

On April 19, police in the Bay Area city of Alameda responded to a report of an intoxicated man and a possible theft.

An altercation occurred, an officer was seen pinning a man for at least four minutes, and soon Mario Gonzalez was dead. Experts have expressed shock at his death, questioning why the officers pinned him when he appeared to pose no imminent threat. The case has sparked outrage in the community.

The Alameda County coroner’s office is conducting an autopsy. Gonzalez’s death is under investigation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the county district attorney’s office.

Here is what we know:

When the video begins

The nearly hourlong video from two officers’ body cameras shows police talking to Gonzalez in a park after receiving 911 calls that he appeared to be disoriented or drunk. Gonzalez in the video acts dazed and struggles to answer officers’ questions.

Gonzalez won’t produce any identification, so the officers try to force his hands behind his back to handcuff him, but he does not let his arms go limp. The officers determine that he is resisting, then push him to the ground, according to the video.

The officers, as they seek to restrain him, repeatedly ask Gonzalez for his full name and birth date.

“We’re going to take care of you, OK, we’re going to take care of you,” one officer tells him.

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“I think you just had too much to drink today, OK? That’s all,” the officer says. After learning his name, the officer adds, “Mario, just please stop fighting us.”

Gonzalez, who weighed about 250 pounds, by that point is lying facedown on some wood chips and can be heard shouting and grunting as the officers use body weight to control him. One officer seems to put an elbow on his neck and a knee on his shoulder.

“He’s lifting my whole body weight up,” an officer tells his colleague.

A knee on the back

One officer puts his knee on Gonzalez’s back for four minutes or more.

Gonzalez is heard in the video telling officers, “I didn’t do nothing, OK?”

Shortly before Gonzalez stops breathing, one officer asks the other, “Think we can roll him on his side?,” but the other answers, “I don’t want to lose what I got, man.”

Another officer then asks, “We got no weight on his chest?,” then repeats, “No! No weight … no weight.”

“He’s going unresponsive,” one officer says.

The officers roll Gonzalez over and perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but he was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

This is the video released by police. Caution: It is graphic.

How did police initially describe the incident

The Alameda Police Department said in its first news release that “officers attempted to detain the man, and a physical altercation ensued. At that time, the man had a medical emergency.”

Another news release said that “there was a scuffle as officers attempted to place his hands behind his back.”

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“The protection of human life is our primary duty as police officers,” interim Police Chief Randy Fenn said last week in announcing a series of investigations into the death. “The loss of Mr. Gonzalez is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”

Those statement did not mention Gonzalez being pinned to the ground.

What is the family saying?

His family said officers unnecessarily escalated what should have been a minor, peaceful encounter with the unarmed man.

“The police killed my brother, in the same manner they killed George Floyd,” his brother Gerardo Gonzalez told reporters Tuesday.

“He’s a lovely guy. He’s respectful, all the time,” Mario’s mother, Edith Arenales, said. “They broke my family for no reason.”


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