The family of a 30-year-old man who was killed days after an encounter with Antioch police late last year has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the police chief, four officers and the city.
Attorney John Burris, whose firm is representing the Angelo Quinto family, announced the lawsuit Monday afternoon during an emotional news conference at the family’s Antioch home.
Quinto, a Navy veteran with a history of mental health issues, passed away three days after the incident on December 23, 2020. Burris said one officer placed his knee on Quinto’s neck, while a second officer held his legs up and down his back for “an extended time” before losing consciousness.
Police have disputed that account, but neither he nor the city’s attorney responded to requests for comment.
“It was excessive force and it was not supposed to happen,” Burris said in an interview before the news conference. “If you had exercised a little restraint, slackened in the verbal discussion, took her away from her mother without grabbing her… it would never have happened.”
Burris said Quinto’s sister, Isabella Collins, had called the police because she was concerned that her brother might hurt her mother, Maria Cassandra Quinto-Collins, insisting that he stay with her.
At Monday’s news conference, an emotional Isabella Collins spoke of the loss of her brother.
“Death is permanent and we’re never going to bring back his smile or he’ll never bother me again,” she said. “I miss it so much. I wanted to see her old, I didn’t expect her to go to her funeral when she was 18. What happened to her didn’t deserve her and no one deserved – miss her It hurts to do it, it hurts to remember how it went.”
Burris said Quinto told the oncoming officers, “Please don’t kill me,” before losing consciousness. Burris said Quinto was essentially brain dead when taken to hospital and put on life support. He died several days later.
Burris compared the incident to the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, but said the conduct of Antioch officers was “more outrageous because when the officer who put his knee on Angelo’s neck tired, he struck a chord with her.” swapped places with the other officer, and the officer immediately put his knee on Angelo’s neck.”
At a news conference this spring, Police Chief Tammany Brooks disputed such claims, saying that Collins told a dispatcher that his brother was being aggressive and had a hammer.
Brooks stated that none of the officers used a knee or other part of the body to gain leverage or apply pressure to Quinto’s head, neck or throat, but noted that one officer’s shoulder blades while handcuffed. One part of the U.S. had knees for some time, a common control technique taught at California Post-approved police academies.
Brooks named the officers who responded – Nicolas Shipilov, Arturo Becerra, Daniel Hopwood and James Parkinson – and said that they stopped Quinto against the bedroom floor by his mother, then asked him to move so they handcuffed him. Can you He determined he was dealing with a mental health crisis and called an ambulance, he said.
But the family’s lawyers claim that when the police officers entered the house, they made no effort to understand what was happening; Instead, without provocation, he quickly pulled Quinto from his mother’s arms, threw him on the floor and began to hold him.
“Angelo was completely healthy when he was with his mother, but within six to eight minutes, he was brain dead,” Burris said. “And that’s the act of not getting oxygen to the brain.”
Quinto’s stepfather, Robert Collins, told PEOPLE at the news conference, “Today, we need to change the way our society responds to mental health issues, so that no one else loses their lives as a result of doing nothing wrong. ” . “He didn’t do anything wrong, he was suffering from a medical condition among the injuries he had suffered. He threatened no one, there was no violence, and he died and suffocated.
In the lawsuit, Burris said that police not only violated Quinto’s civil rights, but they “by trying to correct or distort facts by making false statements about him (and possible drug use).” engaged in some kind of conspiratorial conduct.”
Police, who did not publicly share details about the incident until a month later, said that several pathologists from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office’s coroner’s bureau had concluded that Quinto suffered injuries consistent with conflicts with his family and officers. but none was fatal; There was no fracture of the skull, trunk or extremities; And examination of his neck found no evidence of strangulation or a narrowed airway. Extended toxicology testing is underway.
Brooks then also noted that a coroner’s investigation – a regularly held public hearing on law enforcement-related deaths – would be conducted and that an independent third party would investigate Quinto’s death separately to determine any departmental policy violations. Will check
More than seven months later, however, the family still does not have the autopsy report and no inquiries have taken place, Burris said. The lawyer said that an independent medical examination of the family concluded that the restraint resulted in Quinto’s death.
“We are concerned here that the police have made some misrepresentation about what happened here,” he said. “Basically trying to say that he was under the influence of drugs and he was not.”
Burris said police later searched the family’s home and found “no evidence of drug abuse or any other significance.”
Lead attorney Ben Nissenbaum said medical and paramedic records shed light on what happened and accused police of “concocting and lying” shortly after the incident.
Nissenbaum said Quinto was restrained for more than six minutes and a recording showed he was not making a sound for about five minutes, yet was being restrained in the prone position.
He said Quinto had other injuries that corresponded to his head being held down and reprimanded Chief Brooks for saying there were no injuries consistent with asphyxiation.
“Well, abdominal bleeding in the eyes is a major indicator of asphyxia and they are present,” he said. “How does that happen? Well, that’s what happens when you have a prone restraint.”
Lawyers also noted the emotional stress and pain suffered by the family since Quinto’s death.
Recognizing the tragedy, Quinto’s stepfather sets out to work to change the way the police deal with the mental health crisis. He also thanked Mayor Lamar Thorpe and other council members for approving police body cameras and continuing work on police reforms.
“You know, when this happens to your family, it’s an incredible loss, and there’s no way to get Angelo back, and we know it,” he said. “But we want justice and we want change to come out of this, because what you can get is probably making it a little better. And, you know, better off to the next person who has to face this situation.” Does matter.”