Family Says Navy Veteran in Mental Health Crisis Died After Police Knelt on His Neck for Nearly Five Minutes

Family Says Navy Veteran in Mental Health Crisis Died After Police Knelt on His Neck for Nearly Five Minutes

Angelo Quinto lay facedown on the hardwood floor of his mother’s bedroom with blood pooling out of his mouth and his hands cuffed behind his back.

“What happened?” his mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, breathlessly asked two police officers huddled over his body in a video she shot of the Dec. 23 scene in their Antioch, Calif., home.

Quinto’s family had called 911 because the 30-year-old Navy veteran was suffering a mental health crisis. But Quinto-Collins said she watched in horror as a responding officer knelt on her son’s neck for nearly five minutes while another officer restrained him.

Then, he stopped breathing. “Can you take him, please?” she pleads in the video.

Days later, Quinto died in a nearby hospital.

While the Antioch Police Department has released virtually no information on his case for weeks – including the names of the officers involved or an official cause of death – Quinto’s family now says that their own investigation suggests police asphyxiated him by failing to follow proper procedures in a mental health emergency. The family filed a legal claim last week, a precursor to suing the department.

“They put . . . the knee on the back of his neck and pressed down for about five minutes and snuffed his life out,” John Burris, the family’s attorney, said at a news conference on Thursday.

Antioch police didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Washington Post late Sunday. The agency, which nearly two months later has yet to post any public statements about Quinto’s death, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Contra Costa County district attorney and sheriff’s office are investigating the case.

The circumstances of Quinto’s death suggest a parallel to George Floyd, who died last May after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, and also echo a national movement to change how police respond to mental health crises – or even, in some communities, to remove police from responding to such emergencies entirely.

Quinto, who was born in the Philippines, was honorably discharged from the Navy for a food allergy in 2019, the Chronicle reported. He loved online gaming, scuba diving and fishing, his family said at Thursday’s news conference.

But his behavior changed after suffering a head injury in an apparent assault last year, his family told the Chronicle, and he began suffering bouts of paranoia and anxiety. Late on Dec. 23, he began acting erratically. His sister, Isabella Collins, called 911 for help, and police arrived after 11 p.m. to find his mother embracing him on the floor, according a report compiled by the family’s private investigator, the Chronicle reported.

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Source: SF Gate

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