Bay Area/ Oakland/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 19, 2024
Fmr. Alameda Officers Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in 2021 In-Custody Death Reminiscent of George FloydSource: Alameda Police Department

Three former Alameda police officers are now facing charges over the 2021 in-custody death of Mario Gonzalez, as announced yesterday by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office's Public Accountability Unit. In this case, widely compared to that of George Floyd, officers Eric McKinley, James Fisher, and Cameron Leahy were charged with involuntary manslaughter following a reopened investigation into the incident that occurred on April 19, 2021. The trio was initially cleared of criminal liability, but a revamped inquiry led to a second autopsy report challenging previous findings.

The case was brought back to the forefront after the Public Accountability Unit revisited the circumstances surrounding Mr. Gonzalez's death in a public park on the 800 block of Oak Street in Alameda. Initially, the altercation and subsequent death were blamed on "Toxic effects of methamphetamine", with secondary factors that included "Physiological stress of altercation and restraint; Morbid obesity; alcoholism." According to the statement from the DA's office, a reexamination has attributed the death to "Restraint Asphyxiation."

The charges come after prosecutors provided a fresh look into the actions of McKinley, Fisher, and Leahy during their response to a call involving Mr. Gonzalez, who was allegedly acting strangely and suspected in a shoplifting incident. Despite a previous ruling, the new autopsy findings prompted the DA's office to file the charges of involuntary manslaughter, under Penal Code section 192(b), against each of the involved officers.

The decision has brought attention back to a case that had initially prompted public outcry and demands for police accountability.