On Wednesday, the California attorney general’s office announced that it would review a district attorney’s decision from the San Francisco Bay Area not to file homicide charges against police officers who placed a knee on the neck of a prone man in 2020.
The office of Attorney General Rob Bonta did not offer any additional commentary. Through a spokesperson, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton confirmed that the California Department of Justice will receive a copy of the public report on the death of Angelo Quinto.
After Becton ruled on Friday that Antioch police officers used appropriate force during their encounter with the 30-year-old Navy veteran on the night of December 23, 2020, attorneys for Quinto’s family requested a second investigation.
Lawmakers in numerous states have been prompted by a slew of recent deaths, including that of Zachary Quinto, to demand for reforms to how police respond to those experiencing mental health crises.
After an assault left Quinto with a traumatic brain injury, his family dialed 911 to get some assistance calming him down during an episode of paranoia. They claimed in their federal lawsuit that officers caused Quinto’s death by placing their knee on his neck, similar to how George Floyd was slain in Minneapolis. A medical emergency led to his death on December 26th.
Becton stated in her statement that one officer placed a knee on Quinto’s shoulder while handcuffing him, and that another officer held on to his knees.
She explained that this was all the force the police officers used to hold down Quinto.
Family lawyers criticized the prosecutor, saying she failed to consider relevant evidence and let police officers paint Quinto in a bad light by suggesting he was to blame. Prosecutors found fentanyl in Quinto’s system, but his attorneys claimed he received the drug during hospital treatment.
“It is impossible to even understand how the district attorney’s office can suggest that fentanyl was a significant cause in his death, when the reality is it was administered to him in a therapeutic, clinical way,” said John Burris, one of his attorneys, at a Wednesday rally to update supporters on the case.
He stated the DA’s judgment took the officers’ account at its value and made no attempt to reconcile differences.
This kid was still conscious and breathing. His breathing was not affected by the incident he was having. Moreover, the police’s actions deprived him of air, as stated by Burris.
The official cause of death was reported as “excited delirium syndrome” by the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office, which is a controversial medical diagnosis that has been criticized by the American Medical Association and other organizations.
In front of a small crowd outside the Elihu M. Harris State Office Building in Oakland, Quinto’s mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, cried as she delivered her speech. It was as if “Angelo was being killed in front of me again, and I cannot do anything about it,” she added of the prosecutor’s decision.
In an email, Antioch Police Police’ Association President Rick Hoffman termed Quinto’s death “an terrible incident” and said the prosecutor’s decision to exonerate officers was the appropriate one.