Alameda, CA – On Tuesday, April 27th, 2021, the city of Alameda released the police officer’s bodycam video you see above and of the Alameda Police Department’s murder of Mario Gonzalez, the 26 year-old father and East Oakland resident. Yesterday Mario’s family viewed the devastating footage and today they are demanding justice.
The release of the footage comes a week after the Alameda Police Department put out a statement claiming that Mario died of “medical complications.” What this video clearly shows today is in direct conflict with APD’s public statements.
“The footage shows what we already knew,” said Mario’s mother, Edith Arenales, in Spanish. “Mario was a kind man and level headed. There was a way to deal with this situation without killing my son.” Edith continued: “They never took his knee off of his head. When they saw that Mario wasn’t responding they started calling his name and turned his body over. His eyes were to the side and his mouth was open and full of grass. They killed my son.”
Initially, APD claimed that Mario died at a local hospital. This video clearly shows Mario was murdered on the scene of the deadly attack.
In their statement last week, APD said that the three officers involved in Mario’s murder were on paid administrative leave. We are calling on the city of Alameda to bring charges against all the police officers involved, fire all the officers immediately, release the full records and names of these officers as required by SB 1421, release all the footage they have and all the 911 calls, and for the city of Alameda to put in place city led alternatives to crisis response.
“These killer cops are still getting paid,” said Mario’s youngest brother, Gerardo. “APD spent so much time spreading rumors about my brother, but where are the officers’ records? How many complaints have they received? How many others have they killed? We demand that all officers involved are fired and that charges are brought against them immediately.”
Gerardo continued: “It was painful to watch the violence and disregard for his humanity. Mario was a father and caretaker for our brother with special needs. Mario bathed and fed my brother as well as his 4-year-old child. Mario did not deserve to be murdered by police. The footage shows officers on top of Mario while he was face down on the ground. They had their weight on his head and his back. He was complying and they continued to pin him down with their weight.”
“The Officer wouldn’t take his leg off Mario’s back. Mario was saying stop. He was screaming for help. His son Little Mario keeps asking where his father is. He thinks he’s in the sky in a spaceship. How do I explain that he’s not coming back? Alameda Police left a four year old without a dad.” said Andrea Cortez, mother of Mario’s four year old son, little Mario.
While the City of Alameda announced that, in addition to the investigations run by APD and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, they have hired a private company to investigate the killing. Despite this seemingly benign effort, community organizers and activists doubt that the city is interested in providing real transparency or accountability.
“We have the police investigating the police,” said George Galvis of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice. “DA O’Malley has only brought charges in an officer involved shooting once in her entire career. This company is working for the City, being spoon fed information by the City, and will no doubt come to a conclusion that is in the City’s best interests. That’s why the family has called for an outside, independent investigation, led by their lawyers.”
The family has hired Haddad & Sherwin LLP, civil rights trial attorneys who represent people in cases involving wrongful death and police misconduct. They are also looking to bring attention to non-police first response programs that could have prevented Mario’s untimely death.
“This tragedy could have easily been avoided,” said Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project. “We don’t need armed police to show up to a man sitting quietly in the park. If a program of civilian-led crisis response like MH First had been in place, Mario might still be with his family today. Your job between now and June, no matter what city you live in, is to make sure your mayor and city council member know that you want our tax dollars to be spent on OUR agenda, which is to refund, to restore, and to reimagine public safety.”
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