Police chief says officers followed restraint procedure amid wrongful death lawsuit
The family of Angelo Quinto alleges Quinto died after an officer knelt on his neck
By Lauren Hernández
San Francisco Chronicle
ANTIOCH, Calif. — Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks defended Tuesday the police handling of an encounter with a man who died several days after two officers arrested him, saying that pathologists found no evidence that Navy veteran Angelo Quinto's airways were crushed during the officers' response.
At a news conference Tuesday, Brooks said while one officer "briefly, for a few seconds" put a knee on a "portion" of Quinto's shoulder blade on Dec. 23, there was no evidence of strangulation.
Quinto, 30, died a few days after police responded to the family's home on Crestwood Drive on Dec. 23. Quinto's sister had called 911 asking for help because Quinto was allegedly restraining their mother. His family said he was in the middle of a mental health crisis at the time and suffered from anxiety.
John Burris, the attorney representing Quinto's family, filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of Quinto's family on Feb. 18. The suit alleges wrongful death, assault, battery, negligent hiring by Antioch police, among other offenses.
The family has shared their video of what happened — what may be the only visual record of what happened. His mother told The Chronicle that he was pleading for his life when officers pinned him down, with one officer holding his legs and one officer placing a knee on his neck. Brooks said on Tuesday that one officer "re-positioned to control" his legs because they were "thrashing around."
"At one point during the handcuffing an officer did briefly, for a few seconds, have a knee across a portion of Angelo's shoulder blade, which is a common control technique taught at California POST approved police academies for prone handcuffing," Brooks said during the news conference.
Brooks went on to say that "at no point did any officer use a knee, or other body part to gain leverage or apply pressure to Angelo's head, neck, or throat, which is outside of our policy and training."
When paramedics arrived to the home, Brooks said officials realized Quinto "had become unresponsive and was potentially experiencing a medical emergency." Brooks said he was then taken out of handcuffs so paramedics could try rendering medical aid.
Citing findings by "multiple pathologists," Brooks said Quinto had injuries consistent with a struggle with his family and police, but none of those injuries "appeared to be fatal;" there were no fractures of his skull, torso "or extremities."
Brooks said a coroner's inquest is launched anytime someone dies in encounters with law enforcement, but that inquest has not yet been scheduled. An additional, "independent, third-party" investigation will also look at whether any police department policies were violated the day officers responded to the family home.
Burris and Quinto's family couldn't immediately be reached for comment, but his sister recently told the Chronicle she regrets calling the police.
"It's a really tragic situation," Burris told the Chronicle last month.
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