California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office will now look into the death of the Navy veteran who died in police custody in 2020 after lawyers called the Contra Costa County District Attorney Office’s decision not to charge the officers involved an “abuse of discretion.”
John Burris, the family’s lawyer, and his office sent an email addressed to Bonta’s office on Wednesday requesting to have the attorney general review the report on the death of Angelo Quinto, 30, of Antioch, California, in 2020. The decision to send the letter came after Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said last week that they would not file charges against the responding officers on the day Quinto died. “The manner in which the Antioch officers engaged with Quinto was both lawful and objectively reasonable under the circumstances,” the DA’s final report noted. “Following the review of all available evidence and relevant law, the Office of the District Attorney has determined that the officers utilized reasonable force during the contact with Quinto.” Although a spokesperson from the state AG’s office confirmed to KTVU that they would review the report, neither Bonta nor Becton released further comments on the matter.
Becton said last week that the decision not to charge the officers came down to the autopsy report, which detailed that there was no damage to Quinto’s larynx or trachea.
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Two independent medical examiners hired by Burris’ team ruled the man’s death as restraint asphyxia. A coroner’s inquest jury ruled Quinto’s death was likely caused by “excited delirium due to drug intoxication, psychiatric conditions, physical exertion and cardiac arrest.”
“The charging decision was outrageous,” Ben Nisenbaum, Burris’ legal partner, told KTVU. “They’re looking at the trachea. But George Floyd‘s trachea was never broken. The biggest strawman is that you need to see damage to the throat or neck to have an asphyxiation case. But that’s just now [sic] how it works. Any competent investigator knows this.”
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Antioch PD and the officers who responded to the call in their family home on Dec. 23, 2020, last year. The officers were later identified as Nicholas Shipilov, Arturo Becerra, Daniel Hopwood and James Perkinson.
After a struggle ensued, officers alleged at the time that Quinto was high on methamphetamine; however, Burris’ letter alleged that an independent autopsy found that the fentanyl in his system was administered after his death.
Reports also claimed that the officers kneeled on Quinto’s shoulder and held his face down when trying to handcuff him. The man reportedly lost and never regained consciousness. He died three days later in the hospital.
Burris and his partners took offense at the Contra Costa County Coroner’s findings, which stated that Quinto had fentanyl and other drugs in his system. Initial screenings in the hospital found no drugs in the man’s system, and Burris’ firm also contended that medical records showed he was given Keppra and fentanyl after he died.
“The District Attorney’s report falsely claims that Mr. Quinto had fentanyl in his system that contributed to his death,” Nisenbaum said. “The report’s claim that fentanyl intoxication compounded ‘the original finding of drug intoxication and further exacerbated the complications from Quinto’s physical exertion before and after law enforcement arrived at the residence is a blatant lie.”
Nisenbaum accused the DA’s report of misrepresenting the facts of what happened and for omitting the deposition testimony of the pathologist “who initially claimed at the Coroner’s Inquest that only excited delirium killed Mr. Quinto.”
“In our deposition, that pathologist testified that Mr. Quinto’s breathing was compromised by weight on his back during the restraint, which was a factor in his death,” Nisenbaum said. “The pathologist also admitted that pictures from the second autopsy of Mr. Quinto showed numerous petechial hemorrhages in his eyes.”
Featured Image via KRON4