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Family demands answers for man’s death in Alameda police custody

Father and caretaker Mario Gonzalez died in Alameda police custody Monday morning and his family is demanding answers about the case from the Police Department.

Events unfolded at about 10:45 a.m. Monday in the area of 802 Oak St. where Gonzalez allegedly appeared to be under the influence and was a suspect in a possible theft, according to police.

Gonzalez of Oakland is the father of a 4-year-old child and was a loving nurturer and caretaker for his 22-year-old autistic brother Efrain, according to the family, which is holding a vigil and news conference at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday about the case.

Mario’s mother Edith Arenales said in Spanish:

“We need justice because we lost someone who was indispensable to our family.”

She said:

“Mario was a noble and decent man who didn’t deserve to have his life ended in this way.”

Police said Gonzalez suffered a medical emergency while officers were trying to restrain him. He was taken to a hospital where he died, according to police.

But the family said Gonzalez was healthy and had no medical conditions. The family is asking for Gonzalez’s body so they can have an independent autopsy conducted and an independent investigation done before burying him.

Mario’s youngest brother Gerardo said in a statement:

“We want to know what happened.”

Gerardo added:

“What I know about my brother Mario is that he was not a violent person. Mario was kind. He helped my mom take care of our brother. He wouldn’t hurt anyone. Our family needs answers.”

Gonzalez’s family wants to know how he died, the names of the officers involved and footage from officers’ body-worn cameras released immediately.

George Galvis of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice in a statement said:

“We have seen this play out time and time again. … Police come up with a false narrative until footage is revealed and the truth comes out. They did this to 13-year-old Adam Toledo, and they would have done it to George Floyd if there wasn’t community recording.”

On Tuesday, ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.

Alameda police said they anticipate releasing the body-worn camera video by the end of next week after all parties involved have been interviewed by the investigating agencies.

Galvis’ group said police are already creating a negative image of Gonzalez by saying he was a suspect in a “possible” theft. That is a familiar pattern for police, who criminalize people killed in custody to limit support and empathy, according to Galvis’ group.

Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project said:

“To get this news on the heels of the (Chauvin) trial and the murder of 15 year old Mikiah Bryant, shows us once again that the institution of policing in this country cannot be reformed. … It’s time to end policing as we know it and it’s beyond time to hold people accountable who callously harm our communities.”

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