Officers won’t be charged over arrest death of Oakland man

Apr 7, 2022, 9:41 PM | Updated: 10:07 pm

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — No criminal charges will be filed against officers who pinned an Oakland man to the ground during an arrest a year ago that ended in his death, the Alameda County district attorney’s office announced Thursday.

Three officers acted reasonably in detaining and arresting Mario Gonzalez in the city of Alameda and “are not criminally liable,” according to a March 30 final in-custody death report from the DA’s office that was made public on Thursday.

On April 19, 2021, officers responded to a park to check reports that Gonzalez, 26, was acting strangely and appeared to be breaking security tags off alcohol bottles that he had in two drugstore baskets.

Gonzalez died after three officers and a civilian parking enforcement employee pinned him face-down on the ground for more than five minutes, according to body camera video released by police that showed one officer with a knee on his back. Gonzalez stopped breathing and later died.

His death came a day before a jury in Minneapolis found former police officer Derrick Chauvin guilty of murder in the custody death of George Floyd.

An autopsy found that Gonzalez didn’t have any lethal injuries but he did have a number of health problems, including morbid obesity and an enlarged heart, and had methamphetamine and other drugs in his system. The meth could have led to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia and the stress of struggling and being detained by police could have put strain on his heart, the county Coroner’s Bureau found.

The coroner classified the death as a homicide, meaning death at the hands of another. However, the cause was listed as the toxic effects of methamphetamine with “the stress of altercation and restraint,” alcoholism and morbid obesity as contributing factors.

The district attorney’s review said the officers acted reasonably out of concern that Gonzalez might pose a threat to them and to himself and others, tried to “deescalate” the situation, never struck Gonzalez or used any a chokehold or weapons but relied on “necessary” force.

“The officers are grateful the district attorney recognized that this tragic death was an unintended consequence of their legitimate and lawful actions,” their attorney, Alison Berry Wilkinson, told KTVU-TV.

Two federal civil rights lawsuits filed on behalf of Gonzalez’s mother and son allege that the officers improperly escalated the confrontation with Gonzalez, who appeared “disoriented and confused” but not threatening, ignored signs that he was dying and used improper restraint that asphyxiated him.

In its report, the district attorney’s office noted that it didn’t consider whether the officers may have violated Police Department policy or used improper but noncriminal tactics.

“Those issues are sometimes determined by a civil action” where the standard of proof is lower than for criminal cases, the report said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

5 days ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

5 days ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

10 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

13 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

13 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Officers won’t be charged over arrest death of Oakland man