Deadly California arrest carries echoes of George Floyd case

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In this image taken from Alameda Police Department body camera video, Alameda Police Department officers attempt to take 26-year-old Mario Gonzalez into custody, April 19, 2021, in Alameda, Calif. The video goes on to show officers pinning Gonzalez to the ground during the arrest that ended in his death. (Alameda Police Department via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – Police in Alameda, California, are under fire over the death of a Latino man who was pinned to the ground face down for more than five minutes on the same day a jury in Minneapolis began deliberating in the George Floyd case.

Autopsy findings have not been released, but the family of 26-year-old Mario Gonzalez accused police Wednesday of using excessive force and escalating what should have been a minor encounter with the unarmed man.

Gonzalez stopped breathing following a video-recorded scuffle with police April 19 at a park, where officers had confronted him after receiving 911 calls that said he appeared disoriented or drunk. The initial police statement said Gonzalez had a medical emergency after officers tried to handcuff him.

“The video showed that he died on the ground with his face on the floor with officers on top of him," said his brother, Jerry Gonzalez.

Added the family's attorney, Julia Sherwin: “It would feel like drowning on dry land for him.”

An attorney for the officers said they did nothing wrong.

“These officers used the lowest degree of force possible given the intensity of Mr. Gonzalez's efforts to evade their grasp," Alison Berry Wilkinson told KTVU-TV.

Officers had to act to ensure the safety of Gonzalez because he appeared intoxicated and disoriented and they were concerned he would fall if left there, she said.