We helped our two clients, the children of Humberto (“Beto”) Martinez, settle their claims for their father’s wrongful chokehold death for $7.3 million plus police reforms.  This local case involved Pittsburg police officers’ use of a carotid hold and choke hold, and other highly injurious force, on video, while Beto Martinez can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe!” much like the more publicized cases of George Floyd and Eric Garner.

In addition to compensation, the Pittsburg Police Department agreed to the following reforms:

  • New policies and training concerning risks of prone restraint and how to avoid restraint deaths and restraint/compression asphyxia;
  • New policies and training prohibiting the use of carotid holds, choke hold, neck holds, and lateral vascular neck restraints;
  • Changing PPD policy defining deadly force from “force reasonably anticipated and intended to create a substantial likelihood of causing death or very serious injury” (PPD Policy 300.1.1) to the correct standard, “force that creates a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury” as defined in Smith v. City of Hemet, 394 F.3d 689, 706 (9th 2005) (en banc) and by California POST training (See Learning Domain 20, p. 3-3).

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