ANTIOCH, Calif. (KRON) — The California Attorney General will review a decision by Contra Costa County prosecutors who declined to file charges against Antioch police officers in connection to a Navy veteran’s death.
Angelo Quinto, 30, was suffering a mental health crisis when Antioch Police Department officers were called to his home on Dec. 23, 2020. Officers restrained Quinto and held him facedown until he lost consciousness.
The Quinto family’s attorneys adamantly claim that police officers suffocated the veteran to death.
Last Friday, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced that the officers will not be charged with any crimes, noting that Quinto’s death was caused by “excited delirium.” The DA’s Office said it will take no further actions in the case.
The term, “excited delirium,” has been branded as unscientific by organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights.
According to John Burris, the Quinto family’s attorney, the District Attorney’s investigation report contained serious inaccuracies about what happened during the incident and the cause of Quinto’s death.
Burris said, “The District Attorneys’ report takes the officers’ accounts of what happened at face value, and does not address discrepancies in the evidence that disprove their accounts.”
A pathologist concluded that Quinto died from “excited delirium,” although prosecutors admitted that there are conflicting medical conclusions over what killed him.
Attorney Ben Nisenbaum said, “In our deposition, that pathologist testified that Mr. Quinto’s breathing was compromised by weight on his back during the restraint, which was a factor in his death.”
The veteran’s family requested for a private independent autopsy, and that autopsy concluded Quinto died from suffocation caused by restraint.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office told KRON4 on Wednesday, “Consistent with the California Department of Justice’s longstanding practice and at Attorney General Bonta’s direction, we can confirm that our office will conduct a review of the District Attorney’s charging decision.”
Contra Costa County prosecutors said after reviewing all evidence, the police officers’ methods of restraining Quinto were objectively reasonable under the circumstances.
“Officers heard a commotion coming from Quinto’s bedroom. When they entered the room, they saw Quinto’s mother struggling with him in a bearhug hold on the ground. Officers separated the two. One officer kneeled and placed one knee on Quinto’s shoulder to handcuff him while the other held onto his legs. This was the extent of force utilized by the two officers to restrain Quinto, and to prevent him from harming himself, family members, or the officers,” prosecutors wrote.
The Quinto family contends that a charging decision based on “lies, misrepresentations, and omissions is, by definition, an abuse of discretion and only underscores why the Attorney General’s intervention is necessary to achieve justice.”
Nisenbaum said, “Once again, we have a situation where the District Attorney has refused to objectively apply the law to a set of clear facts that show the defendant police officers killed Mr. Quinto by asphyxiating him.”
Quinto is survived by his mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, his sister, Bella Quinto Collins, and his step-father, Robert Collins.