A Navy veteran suffering from a mental health emergency died after a northern California police officer knelt on his neck for nearly five minutes, according to his family, who filed a complaint regarding the incident being compared to the death of George Floyd.
Angelo Quinto's sister dialed 911 on Dec. 23 because the 30-year-old was suffering a mental health crisis and needed help. A responding officer with the Antioch Police Department knelt on Quinto's neck for nearly five minutes while another officer restrained his legs, family said. Quinto lost consciousness and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died three days later.
"These Antioch police officers had already handcuffed Angelo but did not stop their assault on the young man and inexplicably began using the 'George Floyd' technique of placing a knee on the back and side of his neck, ignoring Mr. Quinto pleas of 'please don't kill me,'" John Burris, an attorney representing the family, said at a press conference Thursday.
Quinto's sister, 18-year-old Bella Collins, said she now regrets calling police, explaining she was concerned that, because of her brother's condition, he might hurt her mom because of his insistence that she stay with him. Quinto's mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, claims she had been hugging her son and he was calm by the time officers arrived at their home in Antioch, 45 miles east of San Francisco.
When the officers entered the house, they allegedly made no effort to gain a clear understanding of what was going on and instead, with no provocation, immediately pulled Quinto from his mother's arms and threw him to the floor and began holding him down, Burris said.
One officer placed his knee on the back of Quinto's neck and at the same time another officer bent both of Quinto's legs up toward his back, Burris said. Quinto-Collins said she began recording on her cellphone when her son’s eyes rolled in the back of his head. The video published to YouTube on Feb.18 by their legal team, shows Quinto listless, with a bloodied face and his hands cuffed behind him, as officers slowly flipped over his body.
"I trusted the police because I thought they knew what they were doing but he was actually passive and visibly not dangerous or a threat so it was absolutely unnecessary what they did to him," the mother said. "I was horrified to see my son snatched from arms without warning, taken down on my bedroom floor and brutally killed in front of my eyes."
The family filed a legal claim against the Antioch Police Department last week, which gives the department 45 days to respond. After that time has elapsed, Burris said the family will file a federal lawsuit.
The Antioch Police Department did not immediately return a voicemail left by Fox News Wednesday. The department has released little information about the incident, besides confirming Quinto's death on Jan. 25 in response to inquiries made by the East Bay Times.
Burris said there were other issues with the officers' response, including how they didn't try to first talk to Quinto, and how they failed to turn on their body cameras and the camera in their patrol car. A cause of death has not been released by authorities and an independent autopsy is pending, Burris said.
Quinto, who was born in the Philippines, was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2019 because of a food allergy, his sister said. He suffered from depression most of his life, but his behavior changed after an apparent assault in early 2020, when he woke up in a hospital not remembering what had happened but had stitches and serious injuries. After that, he began having episodes of paranoia and anxiety.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.