Uncertainty Lies Behind the Death Of Mario Gonzalez


Alameda Police Department

The picture from a body cam video shows officers struggling to detain Mr. Gonzalez.

On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, police in Alameda, California released a body camera video showing officers pinning a man to the ground for more than five minutes during an arrest last week that resulted in the man’s death.

After a confrontation with police in an Alameda park on April 19, Mario Gonzalez, 26, stopped breathing.

Gonzalez had a medical emergency, according to a police statement, after officers attempted to handcuff him.

His family claims that he was killed by cops who used excessive force.

Two officers’ body cameras captured nearly an hour of police talking to Gonzalez in a park after receiving 911 reports that he seemed disoriented or intoxicated. Gonzalez seemed dazed and had trouble answering questions.

When Gonzalez fails to provide identification, police attempt to handcuff him by forcing his hands behind his back, but he resists and is taken to the ground.

Officers repeatedly inquire about his full name and date of birth.

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

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

Gonzalez, who reached approximately 250 pounds, grunts and yells as he lies face down on some wood chips while being restrained by the police. One officer places a knee on his back and an elbow on his stomach.

One officer also appears to put a knee on his back and leaves it there for about four minutes as Gonzalez gasps for air, saying “I didn’t do nothing, OK?”

Gonzalez’s protests seem to be fading, and he seems to pass out after about five minutes.

Shortly before he 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.”

Seeking reassurance, the first officer asks “we got no weight on his chest?” then repeats “No! No weight … no weight.”

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

Gonzalez was rolled over and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed, but he was later declared dead at a hospital.

According to his family, Gonzalez left behind a 4-year-old son and was also the primary caregiver for his 22-year-old brother, who deals with autism.

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

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

Alameda is committed to full transparency and accountability in the aftermath of Mr. Gonzalez’s death,” the city said in a statement. It stated that Gonzlez’s death is being investigated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, the county district attorney’s office, and a former San Francisco city attorney hired by the city to lead an independent investigation.

During the investigation, the three officers involved in the arrest have been placed on paid leave.

The exact cause for Gonzalez’s death is unknown; with a pending autopsy, his family is patiently waiting to find out what exactly led him to pass away.