ALAMEDA, Calif. (BCN) — The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday reopened its investigation into the actions of Alameda police officers involved in the death of Mario Gonzalez in April 2021. The new investigation comes following the installation last month of District Attorney Pamela Price following her election in November.
Under former District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, prosecutors concluded that they did not have enough evidence to warrant criminal charges against three officers in the death of Gonzalez. “We have seen many thoughts and prayers being bandied about the police murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. The people of Tennessee want accountability — and so do the people of Alameda County,” Price said in a statement Tuesday. “I promised accountability. Price also reopened investigations into seven other police shootings or in-custody deaths like Gonzalez’s.
O’Malley concluded last year that though Gonzalez’s death was ruled a homicide, criminal charges could not be justified.
“After reviewing the evidence in this case,” prosecutors wrote last year, “the elements of the relevant crimes cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Prosecutors said last year their decision “rests squarely on the ability to establish the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Gonzalez, 26, died April 19, 2021, as he was being restrained outside 802 Oak St. in Alameda. The cause of Gonzalez’s death was “the toxic effects of methamphetamine, with the physiological stress of altercation and restraint, morbid obesity, and alcoholism contributing to the process of dying,” the coroner’s autopsy report said.
The police officers involved in Gonzalez’s death were James Fisher, Cameron Leahy, and Eric McKinley. One of the officers has left the department and the other two are on desk duty, city officials said Tuesday. Parking technician Charles Clemmons was cleared of violating Alameda police policy in Gonzalez’s death, according to a report commissioned by the city.
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Alameda city officials said they will cooperate with Price’s investigation. Price has asked for evidence from the city regarding the death.
“What we hear first and foremost from families is that they want the police who stole their loved ones held accountable,” said Cat Brooks, executive director of the Anti Police-Terror Project, which works to end police violence against communities of color.
“Today a necessary step towards accountability was taken, and we are looking to next hear that these officers will be prosecuted and convicted,” Brooks added regarding the eight reopened cases in Alameda County.
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