ANTIOCH, Calif. - The family of a 30-year-old Antioch man who died while being restrained by police last year filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday and released new details in their independent investigation.
Attorney’s representing Angelo Quinto’s family contend that the man died from restraint asphyxia while two officers held him face down in his mother’s room after being called to reports of a person experiencing a mental health crisis on Dec. 23.
The family held a press conference Monday afternoon to announce the lawsuit while also revealing details into their investigation they say show’s Quinto died at the hands of police.
"It was heartbreaking for Angelo’s mother and sister to watch Angelo’s life being drained from him when de-escalation was the appropriate police action," Bay Area civil rights attorney John Burris said.
Burris said that records obtained by his office show that police falsely told paramedics that Quinto was high on methamphetamine and struggled with them while he was being restrained. What’s more, Burris said his independent autopsy showed Quinto had no drugs in his system and his eyes had petechial hemorrhaging– tell-tale signs of asphyxia.
The officials cause and manner of death will be determined during a coroner’s inquest that is scheduled to begin in Contra Costa County Superior Court on Aug. 20.
Antioch police Chief Tammany Brooks appeared to defend his officers during a March press conference after Quinto’s death was made public in the media and Quinto’s family said the officers put a knee of the man’s neck.
"At no point did any officer use a knee, or other body part to gain leverage or apply pressure to Angelo's head, neck, or throat," Brooks said.
The Antioch Police Department initially did not issue a press release or statement about the case when it happened.
Quinto’s mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, told KTVU her son had was experiencing mental health problems and was holding onto his mother and sister, Isabella, telling them not to leave him.
As the mother held onto her son on the floor of their bedroom, the sister called 911. Police arrived at the home and officers restrained Quinto, holding him face-down on the ground, the mother said.
A disturbing video of the aftermath shot by the mother shows Quinto’s limp body being carried off by paramedics.
Burris said he never regained conscious.
Quinto’s family recently held a memorial service followed by a protest at the Antioch police headquarters. His sister said she hopes the lawsuit helps bring about change at the department.
"It hurts to remember how he went, but he believed he had a guardian angel and if there is something more for him I hope he has it," she said.