In a controversial case of a man who died while in custody of Alameda police in 2021, the City of Alameda has agreed to pay $11 million to the man's son in a wrongful death suit.
Mario Arenales Gonzalez, 26, was killed while being restrained on the ground by Alameda police in April 2021, in a case that had disturbing similarities to the death of George Floyd. In the case of Gonzalez, officers appeared to be conscious of not putting weight on his back as he was held, face-down on the ground, however he struggled with officers for about four minutes before becoming unresponsive.
Three Alameda police officers were involved with the arrest, and much of the incident was captured on body-worn cameras. Gonzalez had been loitering in a public park and acting suspiciously, and officers were apparently arresting him on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.
"Mario would not have died but for the prone restraint these officers inflicted on him," said attorney Michael Haddad, speaking to ABC 7. Haddad represented Gonzalez's son in the wrongful death suit.
A December 2021 autopsy report concluded that while Gonzalez's death was ruled a homicide, the "toxic effects of methamphetamine" were a primary cause of death, along with the "physiologic stress of altercation and restraint, morbid obesity and alcoholism." Subsequently, former Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley declined to press charges against the officers involved, after commissioning an independent report on the incident. The report found that the officers were not criminally liable in the death, and said "the evidence does not justify criminal charges."
The incident remains under investigation, after newly elected Alameda County DA Pamela Price reopened the case back in January.
As ABC 7 reports, the family will now at least be financially compensated by the city. In a release Friday, the City of Alameda said it had agreed to an $11 million settlement with Gonzalez's young son Mario, called little Mario by his family. The city will also pay $350,000 to Gonzalez's mother, Edith Arenales.
"Despite what some of the contributing factors may have been around him either being intoxicated or his state of health the fact is clear that he would be here today if not for his interaction with the police," said attorney Adante Pointer, who is representing the mother.
Both Pointer and Haddad are calling on the DA's office to bring homicide charges against the officers.
"I just hope that the District Attorney has the courage to do the right thing," says Pointer, per ABC 7.