Who was Edward Bronstein? California man died in custody screaming 'I can't breathe!'
Warning: Distressing Content
A newly-released video captures the death of a California DUI suspect who died after repeatedly telling officers, "I can't breathe!", while pinned on the ground. Edward Bronstein, 38, was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under influence by California Highway Patrol Officer Dusty Osmanson on the 5 Freeway on March 31, 2020.
The suspect was taken to the CHP’s Altadena station where several officers forcibly tried to draw his blood to measure his alcohol level, which he initially resisted. The 16-minute bodycam video, released by orders of a federal court judge, shows Bronstein kneeling on the ground while an officer presses his hands onto his shoulders and another officer orders him to comply with a court-ordered blood draw. One of the cops says, "You are bringing the fight to this, not us." To which Bronstein replies, "I am not bringing the fight at all."
One of the officers then warns Bronstein that if he refuses to comply, "You are going face-down on the mat — and we going to keep on going." After being held to the ground, Bronstein shouts, "I’ll do it willingly! I’ll do it willingly!". The video then shows several officers pinning him down with their bodies as Bronstein shouts in distress, "I can't breathe!", before he stops moving. One of the officers then slaps him on the head in an attempt to revive him before another officer begins to administer CPR.
Bronstein was pronounced dead by paramedics later that morning, according to the autopsy report. The coroner’s office attributed Bronstein’s death to "acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement." His death came two months before George Flyod was killed in May 2020 uttering the same haunting words to a Minneapolis cop who knelt on his neck and compressed his airway. Meanwhile, Bronstein’s family has filed a federal lawsuit against nine officers and a sergeant, alleging excessive force and a violation of civil rights. The family also is calling for the cops to be criminally charged by the LA County district attorney.
Referring to the bodycam video of the incident made public by a federal judge, the family's civil rights attorney Luis Carrillo said: "The state of California did not want us to release this video. Thank God that the judge agreed with us, and that’s why you can now see this video … It’s horrible, but it is the only way his family can get some justice." The family's attorney further added that the video was not part of the usual protocol for the CHP as officers do not wear body cameras. The attorney said, "I suspect they shot this for training purposes and then realized later they had to reveal its existence."
Michael Carrillo, who is representing the Bronstein family with his father, said when the cops heard Bronstein say, "I can’t breathe," they should have stopped. "Not one officer took the action to pull the others off of him, pull him to the side, do something to give him air," he told the LA Times. "When they finally flip him over, he’s lifeless." The family says Bronstein was terrified of needles and believes that’s why he was initially reluctant to comply with the officers as they sought to draw his blood. Bronstein's daughter Brianna Palomino during a news conference announcing the release of the footage said, "Nobody deserves to die this way. He was treated like trash, like his life was not deserving."