Angelo Quinto’s family hoped police could help control him during a mental breakdown–but responding Antioch officers ended up killing him within minutes.
The family of Angelo Quinto, a Navy veteran who was killed by Antioch police officers who sat on his neck, is suing the California city for damages.
According to NBC News, Quinto’s sister called the police on December 23rd after noticing that her brother was exhibiting signs of mental distress. For weeks, Quinto’s familiar had found the 30-year old man’s behavior worrying—he seemed anxious, depressed, and even paranoid.
The lawsuit, adds NBC, was filed by Angelo’s mother, Maria Quinto-Collins.
Speaking to the press, Quinto-Collins said she didn’t think twice about calling police—she thought they would do their job responsibly and help her son.
“I trusted the police because I thought they knew what they were doing,” she said, observing that Angelo was “actually quite passive and visibly not dangerous or a threat.”
“It was absolutely unnecessary what they did to him.”
The lawsuit notes that, when police arrived, Quinto-Collins was holding her son on the ground. Angelo was, by that point, beginning to calm down.
However, responding officers were quick to move Quinto-Collins away. They seized Angelo, flipped him on his stomach, and folded his legs behind him. The whole time, Quinto was allegedly pleading with officers not to “kill” him.
While Quinto was being restrained, one of the officers placed his knee on the victim’s neck.
“At this point, Mr. Quinto started bleeding from his mouth,” the lawsuit states. “At no time while being restrained did Mr. Quinto resist physically or verbally. After being restrained for almost 5 minutes, Mr. Quinto became lifeless.”
Quinto-Collins, says the New York Times, had captured much of the incident on camera.
In her video, Quinto-Collins can be heard repeatedly asking, “What happened?”
John Burris, an attorney for the Quinto family, said Angelo’s mother and sister are still grieving their loved one’s death—and are still traumatized in its aftermath.
“They thought that they were calling the police for help,” Burris said.
While Burris pointed out that the family is still awaiting the results of Quinto’s autopsy, he suggested the cause of death is obvious.
“We feel pretty strongly that this is an asphyxiation case,” he said, drawing a comparison between Quinto’s drawn-out death and that of George Floyd, an African-American man who was killed by Minneapolis police officers over the summer.
The death of Floyd, who was also killed by a police officer driving a knee into his neck, set off nationwide protests that lasted months.
“I refer to it as the George Floyd technique, that’s what snuffed the life out of him and that cannot be a lawful technique,” Burris said. “We see not only violations of his civil rights but also violations against the rights of his mother and sister’s, who saw what happened to him.”
Speaking at a press conference, Burris said the police misconduct which resulted in Quinto’s death was clearly egregious in its scope.
“This certainly falls within one of the more egregious a case you can have, not because the physical conduct was brutal, like we have in cases where people have been shot unnecessarily or beaten to death,” Burris said last week. “This is a situation where it was more subtle than that.”