Who was Angelo Quinto? California Navy vet, 30, died after police knelt on his neck for 5 minutes, says family

The family had to call the police after the 30-year-old -- who suffered from mental health issues -- showed erratic behavior, leaving them afraid


                            Who was Angelo Quinto? California Navy vet, 30, died after police knelt on his neck for 5 minutes, says family
Screengrab of the incident (John Burris Law Offices/YouTube)

ANTIOCH, CALIFORNIA: It was a usual night for the family of Angelo Quinto from Antioch, California, on December 23, 2020, before suddenly things took a turn as they had to call police after the 30-year-old -- who suffered from mental health issues -- showed erratic behavior, leaving them afraid. That ended tragically as three days after the violent encounter with the cops, Quinto died at a nearby hospital.

The Cut reported that months after the navy veteran’s death, though the Antioch Police Department revealed a little information about the December 23 incident, it did not even mention an official cause of death. The family, however, believes the cause of death was asphyxiation at the hands of the police. They have also filed a wrongful death claim. “We trusted them too much during a time of fear and vulnerability and panic. I would not call them if this happened again,” Quinto’s sister told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Who was Angelo Quinto and what happened to him?

According to Quinto’s sister, her brother was depressed for the most part of his life, but he was never formally diagnosed. For the navy veteran’s family, he was a caring, sweet-natured, and artistic man who completed his school education in 2008 from Berkeley High School. After school, he joined Berkeley City College before joining the Navy. But he was medically discharged from there a year before his tragic death due to a food allergy.

Quinto’s sister, Isabella Collins, said his manners “changed after an apparent assault early last year, which left Quinto with a black eye, a head wound that required stitches, and no memory of what happened. In subsequent months, Quinto seemed anxious and edgy.” His alleged abnormal behavior escalated on December 23 as at around 11:00 in the night, Quinto suddenly grabbed his mother and sister and started hugging them tightly around their heads and shoulders. “He was trying to keep us close, and it really freaked us out,” his sister explained, who called cops fearing his brother might hurt their mother.

Screengrab of the incident (John Burris Law Offices/ YouTube)

A private investigator hired by the family’s attorneys, who interviewed them, reportedly said when cops responded to the scene, they saw Quinto and his mother sitting on the floor, while the latter was embracing him. The family claimed that the victim was then flipped by the officers as one cop held his legs and the other knelt on his neck. While he was pinned down, he allegedly told officers, “Please don’t kill me.” The episode was reportedly recorded by the man’s mother on her cellphone while a cop knelt on his neck for around five minutes.

Later, a video released by the family's attorney showed an unmoving Quinto lying on his stomach while officers attempted to awaken him and remove his handcuffs. When the man was turned around, his mouth was smudged with blood. Also, a large amount of blood was seen on the floor. Quinto’s sister said, “His eyes were rolled up in his head,” and that he “looked purple.” The same clip showed Quinto being shifted onto a mobile stretcher as cops did chest compressions. His mother was heard saying at the time, “Does he have a pulse?”

After the whole fiasco at home, Quinto was shifted to the hospital, where he never came to consciousness and lost his life three days later. No cause of death as well as the names of the officers who went to his home were released by the police department. This year when local media started looking into the case and confronted the police, an Antioch police official told Mercury News that police “didn’t use physical force like a taser, pepper spray, baton, or strikes to [Quinto’s] body,” and that “the officers had already called for an ambulance to place Quinto in a mental health hold when he began experiencing a medical emergency.”

But his family thinks Quinto died because cops manhandled him. In their legal suit, they are seeking over $25,000 from the police department. They have accused the Antioch Police Department of wrongful death, assault, battery, and negligent hiring. They also accused the cops involved in the case of breach of duty by putting Quinto at risk of serious physical injury and other offenses.

LED candles are placed beneath a portrait of George Floyd during a birthday celebration for him at a memorial site known as "George Floyd Square" on October 14, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Getty Images)

Quinto's death came seven months after the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody. Floyd reportedly died after an officer -- Derek Chauvin -- knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, which caused massive protests across the country. The family of Quinto believes the death of their son also deserves such outrage and attention. John Burris, the family’s attorney said: “This was a healthy person before, no physical problems. And within moments, his life is gone.”

“There are a lot of issues wrong here. The technique applied by officers. The failure to de-escalate. The jumping on his back, the putting into his neck by a knee…Given what we know, which is that we had a healthy young man in his mother’s arms. The police grabbed him. They themselves, their conduct, snuffed the life out of him. We see that not only as a violation of his civil rights but it’s a violation of humanity, frankly,” Burris added.

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