Lawsuit Filed against Four Officers and Antioch in the Death of Angelo Quinto

Quinto’s sister breaks down during press conference – Photo provided by John Burris Law Office

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Antioch, CA – It was a scene reminiscent of George Floyd last December 23, just before Christmas, as 30-year-old Angelo Quinto, a Filipino male with a recent history of mental impairment, was grabbed from his mother’s arms and thrown to the floor in his home by Antioch police officers. After that, one officer handcuffed and placed his knee on the back of his neck, and at the same time, another officer bent both of Angelo’s legs up and backward toward his back for an extended period of time, resulting in his death.

Prior to his death, he pleaded, “Please don’t kill me.”

Civil Rights Attorney John Burris called the incident “outrageous on two levels.”  One was the use of the “George Floyd technique on him” and he said, “the department tried to shame the victim by suggesting that he was under the influence of methamphetamine which was not true,” and secondly that he was “combative which was not true.”

The police initially denied that anyone stood on his neck.

Burris told the Vanguard that the police chief in this case took the position that no one stood on his neck, which was not true and “he took that position before he saw the autopsy evidence.”

Burris added, “You would think that departments understand by now, if you put a person on their stomach, once you get control of them, here just like with George Floyd … they were unnecessarily holding the guy down by the neck and telling the mother, this is how we do things.”

And just like in George Floyd, Burris alleges that “they never checked to see the responses that might have saved this guy’s life.”

“Later and most disturbing is the police chief made a statement that Angelo did not die of asphyxiation.  This statement was made without the autopsy report from the medical examiner,” Burris told the Vanguard.   

He added that “our firm conducted an independent autopsy, and our medical examiner’s preliminary finding is that the cause of death was restraint asphyxiation.”

According to the complaint, several months prior to the incident, Quinto suffered a head injury after being jumped and beaten by unknown assailants. 

“That incident caused a change in (Quinto’s) behavior, including infrequent episodes of paranoia and agitation,” he said. 

His attorneys claims that he “had no significant mental health history prior to that incident. Approximately two months before the subject-incident, (Quinto) was 5150’d by Antioch Police officers as a potential danger to himself or unable to care for himself by reason of a mental impairment after he, while alone, had locked himself out of the (family) house and grew agitated enough that police were called.”

Burris points out that no one other than Quinto was injured in the earlier incident.

Quinto’s family called authorities on the day in question as he became fearful and agitated.  His family knew he was especially fearful of police even though he had no significant history of criminal activity.

Quinto’s mother and sister noted that they were horrified when the officers suddenly and without warning violently grabbed Angelo from her arms cuffed him and took him down to the bedroom floor.

Quinto pleaded with the cops “Please don’t kill me,” at least twice before being put in a prone position.

The officers responded that they were not going to kill him as they handcuffed Quinto behind his back.

Quinto was taken to a local hospital but never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead three days later.

Angelo’s sister Isabella had called the police because she was concerned with her brother’s condition, and she thought it possible that he might hurt her mom because of his insistence that she stay with him. 

When the Antioch police officers entered the house, they made no effort to gain a clear understanding of what was going on; instead, according to attorney accounts, “with no provocation, they immediately pulled Quinto from his mother’s arms and threw him to the floor, and began holding him down in the manner described above.”

As his mother described, “I was horrified to see my son taken from my arms without warning and pulled down onto my bedroom floor and brutally killed in front of my eyes.”

Burris said, “Angelo’s death could have been avoided if the officers took the time to talk with Angelo instead of using similar restraints that killed George Floyd and like George Floyd, Angelo said to the officers ‘please don’t kill me,’ but the officers did exactly that.”

He said he believes, “The Antioch police officers’ conduct is more outrageous than that in the Floyd case because when the officer who had his knee on Angelo’s neck got tired and switched places with a second officer who immediately placed his knee on Angelo’s neck. Both officers continued to apply lethal pressure and failed to observe that Angelo was unresponsive within several minutes of their restraints were applied. In over six minutes, Angelo’s life was snuffed out.”

Burris lamented, “It was heartbreaking for Angelo’s mother and sister to watch Angelo’s life being drained from him when de-escalation was the appropriate police action.”

Quinto’s attorney Ben Nisenbaum added: “The paramedic and medical records are very revealing, both about how the police killed Mr. Quinto and how the police immediately began trying to cover it up. Noting that based on time frames from when the police arrived to when the paramedics arrived, the prone restraint of Mr. Quinto was at least over 6 minutes long, and likely closer to 8 minutes.” 

Nisenbaum went on to state: “The length of the prone restraint is shocking, but even more so is what the officers involved, the Chief and the Antioch Police Department have done since then to mislead the media and the public.”

According to the complaint, the officers took three minutes after CPR began to notify their own dispatch that CPR had begun. 

They allege, “The police falsely told paramedics Mr. Quinto was on meth when they had no reason to believe that. The police told the paramedics that Mr. Quinto was combative with them, which is denied by the mother and sister.  The police ransacked the family’s home and found no evidence of drug misuse or any else of significance.”

Scott Alonso of the Contra Contra DA’s Office declined comment, noting that the case remains under criminal investigation.

Earlier in the day, the DA’s office cleared Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Gauthier in a 2018 incident that killed Paul Ridgeway, finding that he acted lawfully.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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