Fil-Am family sues Antioch, CA over death of son in custody

Angelo Quinto. Photo courtesy Law Offices of John Burris

THE family of a Filipino American man who died after a police officer allegedly knelt on his neck for almost five minutes has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Antioch and its police department.

In a press conference held Monday, August 9, the lawyer representing Angelo Quinto’s family made the announcement, naming the city as well as Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks, and Officers James Perkinson, Arturo Becerra, Daniel Hopwood and Nicholas Shipilov.

Bay Area civil rights attorney John Burris also maintained that Antioch Police officers used excessive force when restraining Quinto, causing his death.

“We believe that Angelo Quinto was wrongfully killed by the police by a manner in which they employed, in our view, an illegal restraint called restraint asphyxia. Restraint asphyxiation is what happened here, and it is a real tragedy for us and the family because this did not need to happen,” he said.

Quinto, a 30-year-old Navy veteran who was born in the Philippines, was suffering a mental health crisis on the night of December 23, 2020, prompting his sister to call 911 for help, as previously reported by the Asian Journal.

According to the family’s complaint, a responding officer pinned and subdued him with a knee to the back of his neck for nearly five minutes, while another officer held him by the legs.

Quinto reportedly lost consciousness and was taken by an ambulance. He died at Sutter Delta Medical Center three days later.

Previously, Brooks came to the defense of his officers, insisting that none of them applied any pressure to Quinto’s body.

“At no point did any officer use a knee, or other body part, to gain leverage or apply pressure to Angelo’s head, neck, or throat,” he said on March 2.

For his part, Burris called Brooks’ statement“an attempt to shame the victim.”

“This is a young man who was dead and it happened in front of his mother and sister and yet the effort was to shame him to suggest he caused his own demise. That to me was outrageous and despicable because the facts are pretty clear: there was a mental case and it should have been treated as such,” the lawyer said.

Burris further pointed out that de-escalation should’ve been the appropriate police action.

“My office has been involved in many mental health cases down through the years and in those cases … a little reassessment, a little de-escalation, reconsideration of where you are and who was involved really could have saved a person’s life,” he said.

In addition, Burris revealed that records obtained by his office showed that police falsely told paramedics that Quinto was high on methamphetamine and struggled with them while he was being restrained.

However, Burris’ independent autopsy found that Quinto had no drugs in his system.

A coroner’s inquest on August 20 has been scheduled by the Contra Costa County Sheriffs’ Office to determine the official cause and death of Quinto.

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