Recorded on cellphone video giving CPR to a Navy veteran in police custody, California police officers have been accused in a wrongful death claim of causing the handcuffed man’s death by kneeling on the back of his neck for nearly five minutes.
On December 23, 2020, the family of Angelo Quinto called the police because the 30-year-old Navy vet was suffering a mental health crisis. According to Quinto’s mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, she had been sitting on the floor and hugging Quinto against her chest in an effort to calm him down when Antioch Police officers arrived.
“He said ‘Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me,’ as they were putting him on the ground. They handcuffed him and one officer put his knee on the back of his neck the whole time I was in the room,” Quinto-Collins told The Associated Press.
“I trusted the police because I thought they knew what they were doing but he was actually passive and visibly not dangerous or a threat so, it was absolutely unnecessary what they did to him,” she said.
Quinto-Collins began recording a cellphone video of the incident when she noticed her son’s eyes roll up in his head. In the video, Quinto appears motionless on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back and blood smeared across his face.
After removing the handcuffs, the officers lifted Quinto onto a gurney. Paramedics appeared to perform chest compressions on Quinto’s unresponsive body before transporting him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead three days later.
Last week, Quinto’s family filed a wrongful death claim against the Antioch Police Department for allegedly causing his death by kneeling on the back of his head for roughly five minutes before he stopped breathing. If the department fails to respond to the claim within 45 days, then John Burris, the Quintos’ attorney, plans to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of the family.
“I refer to it as the George Floyd technique, that’s what snuffed the life out of him and that cannot be a lawful technique,” Burris said. “We see not only violations of his civil rights but also violations against the rights of his mother and sister’s, who saw what happened to him.”
On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was recorded on video kneeling against George Floyd’s neck for several minutes despite the fact that Floyd had already been handcuffed and remained motionless for the majority of that time. Floyd lost consciousness and died in police custody as many onlookers begged the officers to stop killing him.
According to Burris, Quinto’s cause of death has not been released by authorities and an independent autopsy is pending. Quinto’s family told reporters that he had suffered from depression for most of life and was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2019 due to a food allergy.
The Contra Costa County Sheriff Coroner’s office recently confirmed that Quinto’s cause of death is still pending. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office is currently investigating his death.