Today, civil rights law firm Haddad & Sherwin LLP released the results of the second, independent autopsy it obtained on Mario Gonzalez. The second autopsy, performed by noted forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet I. Omalu, confirms that rather than methamphetamine toxicity, Mario Gonzalez’s cause of death was restraint asphyxiation.
In April of 2021, Mario Gonzalez was killed by three Alameda, California, police officers who pinned him, prone, on the ground, holding him down with their body weight for over five minutes. Mario never attacked or threatened another person, and never actively resisted any officer. After he was handcuffed, Mario was still kept prone with great weight on his back, torso, and legs, , for over three and a half more minutes. The autopsy confirms the officers directly caused Mario’s premature death, with acute, severe swelling and congestion in Mario’s lungs, and global swelling of his brain caused by a lack of oxygen. Mario died at age 26, leaving behind a four-year-old son.
The autopsy report continues to note that the amount of methamphetamine found in Mario’s blood was relatively low and well within what the United States government has determined to be a “normal recreational” amount.
Julia Sherwin, who represents Mario and his son, says “The independent autopsy confirms what we all saw with our own eyes. Meth didn’t kill Mario, the officers did. They killed him by restraining him in a prone position, with three officers’ weight on him, for over five minutes. And for more than three and a half of those minutes, Mario’s hands were handcuffed behind his back.”
The autopsy results come just twenty days after Alameda California District Attorney Nancy O’Malley decided not to bring criminal homicide charges against the three officers, leaving Mario’s son to vindicate his rights. Read more of the DA’s verdict here.
Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin are civil rights lawyers in California handling wrongful death and catastrophic injury police misconduct and jail misconduct cases, including cases of restraint asphyxia. If your family member is a victim of wrongful death at the hands of police or restraint asphyxia, contact Haddad and Sherwin for a free consultation on your case.