Lawyers said Tuesday that California will pay $24 million to the family of a man who died in police custody after yelling “I can’t breathe” while multiple officers held him down to take a blood sample.
In January of this year, seven California Highway Patrol officers and a nurse were charged with unintentional manslaughter for the death of 38-year-old Edward Bronstein in 2020.
Attorneys for Bronstein’s young children, Annee Della Donna and Eric Dubin, said it was the largest civil rights payment in California and the second largest in the country since the city of Minneapolis paid $27 million to settle the George Floyd case. The lawyers set up a news conference for Wednesday in Los Angeles to give information.
The settlement comes after the death last week of Jordan Neely, a New York City subway rider who was put in a chokehold by a U.S. Marine veteran and died as a result. This has led to a closer look at restraints that could be deadly.
Bronstein’s death is also similar to that of Eric Garner, a New Yorker who died in 2014 after being put in a chokehold by police. His last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a chant at protests against racial injustice. Garner and Neely were both Black people.
The Los Angeles County coroner said that Bronstein died from “acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement.” In the story, Bronstein is said to be white.
On March 31, 2020, Bronstein was arrested after a traffic stop because he was thought to be driving while drunk. He died at a highway patrol station in Altadena, north of downtown Los Angeles, less than two months before Floyd was killed by police in Minnesota after telling them over and over, “I can’t breathe.”
When he announced the criminal charges in March, LA County District Attorney George Gascón said that the highway patrol cops failed Bronstein, “and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death.”
Last year, a judge ordered the release of a nearly 18-minute film showing how the officers treated Bronstein. The family had sued the police for using too much force and violating Bronstein’s civil rights.
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Bronstein Was Afraid of Needles
Family members have said that Bronstein was afraid of needles, and they think that is why he didn’t want to let the CHP take a blood sample at first.
The sergeant took the video, which shows several officers putting Bronstein on a floor mat while he yells, “I’ll do it willingly!” I’ll gladly do it, I promise!”
He keeps screaming and pleading for help while six cops hold his face down. The lawsuit said that they put their knees on his back.
“It’s too late,” says a cop. “Stop yelling!” someone else yells.
“I’m suffocating!” “I can’t!” When Bronstein screams, an officer tells him, “Just calm down and stop fighting!”
The tweet below confirms the news:
Bronstein’s speech gets quieter, and then he stops talking. Even though he isn’t moving or talking, the nurse keeps taking blood and the cops keep holding him down.
When they see that he might not have a pulse and doesn’t seem to be breathing, they slap his face and say, “Edward, wake up.” They start CPR more than 11 minutes after he last screamed.
Bronstein never woke up again and was later said to be dead.
In a statement, CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee expressed his condolences to the family and said he would accept the legal process. When his office was asked about the deal on Tuesday, they didn’t answer right away.
The cops were put on administrative leave in March and are being charged with one count of unintentional manslaughter and one count of felony assault under the color of authority each. If they are found guilty, they could go to jail for up to four years. The trained nurse was also charged with killing someone without their permission.
The death of Bronstein caused the CHP to change its rules so that officers can’t use “techniques or methods of transport that pose a substantial risk of positional asphyxia,” the agency said. Uniformed cops were also told to get more training.
In September 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that says cops can’t use certain face-down holds that have caused several people to die by accident. In response to Floyd’s death, the plan was meant to make the state’s ban on chokeholds stronger.
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