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The family of Angelo Quinto, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly five minutes during a mental health crisis, has reportedly filed a legal claim saying they plan to sue the police department for wrongful death. The 30-year-old Navy veteran died on Dec. 26, 2020, three days after his encounter with police at his family’s Antioch, California, home.
Quinto’s family told the San Francisco Chronicle that Quinto experienced paranoia and anxiety, which prompted his sister to call 911 when he started acting erratically. When police arrived, Quinto was on the floor in his mother Cassandra Quinto-Collins’s arms. Officers then flipped Quinto on to his stomach to restrain him.
A lawyer for Quinto’s family reportedly said that Quinto had pleaded for his life as the police officers restrained him. “Police came and snatched him from his mom,” he said. “He said ‘please don’t kill me,’ and officers said ‘We’re not going to do that,’ and yet they did.”
His family says Quinto was unresponsive after an officer on scene knelt on his neck. As the Washington Post reported, when police realized Quinto was no longer responding, they handcuffed him and put him on to a mobile stretcher and performed chest compressions. Quinto died three days later.
In a video his mother shot, quoted by WaPo, Quinto laid face down on the hardwood floor with blood pooling out of his mouth and his hands cuffed behind his back. “What happened?” she asked two police officers huddled over his body.
It took Antioch police nearly a month to acknowledge Quinto’s death and their role in the incident, after the San Jose Mercury News began asking about the case. Lt. John Fortner, an Antioch police spokesperson, said at the time that police had handcuffed Quinto but didn’t use any physical force. However, the family has said this is untrue.
Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office are currently still investigating the incident. And while the Antioch Police Department has released almost no information on his case for weeks, Quinto’s family has said their own investigation suggests police asphyxiated him by failing to follow proper procedures in a mental health emergency. The legal claim filed is a precursor to suing the department.
The Quinto’s family attorney told Insider that along with damages, they are also calling for reform in the police department, including better mental health response and for the use-of-force technique involving a knee on someone’s neck to be eliminated from training. He further revealed that police have not released information on the case to Quinto’s family, and that the officers involved in the incident were not wearing body cameras.
“This was a healthy person before, no physical problems, and within moments, his life is gone,” the attorney reportedly said about Quinto.
Quinto reportedly began suffering from bouts of paranoia and anxiety after suffering a head injury in an apparent assault last year, his family told the Chronicle.
“I’m always going to regret calling the police and hope no one has to regret doing what they think is the right thing,” Quinto’s sister told KTVU.