A Filipino-American living in California died three days after he was allegedly physically restrained and choked by police authorities during a mental health emergency, a lawyer for the victim’s family said Monday.
In a Facebook post, lawyer John Burris said Angelo Quinto pleaded with officers not to kill him before they pinned him to the floor with a knee to the back of his neck.
The incident happened when the family of Quinto, 30, a US Navy veteran from Antioch, California, called the police to respond to their emergency last December 23, 2020.
“Angelo Quinto's plea ‘please don't kill me’ made before the police snatched him from his mother's arm and put on [the] floor where a knee was put on the back of his neck… rendering him comatose before he passed away 3 days later,” Burris said.
According to Burris’ associate Ben Nisenbaum, authorities were called to attend to Quinto, who was then suffering from a mental health condition.
“But there were two emergencies that happened here. The first was Angelo’s mental health emergency then the police. And the police became a medical emergency to Mr. Quinto,” Nisenbaum said in a press conference.
“Mr. Quinto was suffering a mental health emergency and the police killed him. As Mr. Burris said, they snuffed the life out of him. And we know that,” he added.
A video posted by the John Burris Law Offices showed police officers standing over Quinto’s unmoving body.
“His breath was taken away and he’s on the ground, on the floor, in the house, in his bedroom… put him down. When he finally turned him over, blood was flowing through his mouth,” Burris said.
“This was a healthy person before. No physical problems and within moments his life is gone. That is why we are here and what we’re so traumatized by,” he added.
Quinto, who was later carried out of the house, showed signs of depression for most of his life, though it was never formally diagnosed.
Nisenbaum said they also conducted their own examination into the incident.
“We’re very comfortable that that happened, all the indicators of an asphyxiation that appeared to be present,” he said.
Quinto’s family believes that he died from asphyxiation at the hands of the police and have filed a wrongful death claim.
Seven months after nationwide protests in the US sparked by the killing of George Floyd, who was also brutally knelt on while being detained, the Quinto family are demanding accountability from the police department and justice for Quinto, according to a story in New York Magazine on Feb. 22.
“We trusted them too much during a time of fear and vulnerability and panic,” Quinto’s sister told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I would not call them if this happened again.”