A US navy veteran who was experiencing a mental health crisis died after a police officer called out to help him knelt on his neck for several minutes, asphyxiating him, lawyers for his family have said.
Angelo Quinto, 30, was suffering a bout of paranoia, anxiety and depression in his family home in Antioch, northern California, when his sister Isabella Collins called police on 23 December.
According to an account given by the family at a recorded press conference, the responding officer grabbed Quinto from the arms of his mother who was trying to calm him, then knelt on his neck for almost five minutes while his legs were being held by another officer.
In a cellphone video recorded by his mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, her son is seen lying limp on the floor with blood on his face and on the floor beneath him. She is heard saying: “What happened? Does he have a pulse?”, as officers begin pumping his chest in an attempt to resuscitate him.
Quinto was taken unconscious to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead three days later.
Lawyers for the family have filed a wrongful death claim against the city of Antioch, accusing police of having carried out an illegal chokehold. The family’s lawyer, John Burris, told the ABC channel 7 News: “Given what we know, a healthy young man in his mother’s arms, they stuffed the life out of him.”
Burris said that the family intends to file a federal lawsuit relating to Quinto’s death at a later date.