The California city of Alameda agreed to pay $11 million to the son of a man police officers killed by sitting on his back and asphyxiating him in 2021, Courthouse News reports. The city avoided trial by agreeing to the settlement with the seven-year-old son of Mario Gonzalez. A trial was set to take place this year, when a federal judge upheld some claims against police officers named in Gonzalez’s family’s civil rights suit — saying they displayed “reckless disregard” in Gonzalez’s death. Gonzalez died after three Alameda police officers detained him at a park because they claimed he was drunk and was a danger to himself. Body camera footage shows two Alameda police officers, Eric McKinley and James Fisher, placing their full weight on Gonzalez for more than five minutes while he was handcuffed in a prone position, asphyxiating him.
Gonzalez’s attorneys claim his civil rights were violated and his detainment was unconstitutional since he had not committed a crime. Alameda police officers McKinley, Fisher, and Cameron Leahy are named defendants in the suit, as well as then-interim Police Chief Randy Fenn. The Alameda County Sheriff-Coroner determined that Gonzalez’s death was a homicide, which is still under review by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. A second autopsy, performed by forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, confirmed that Gonzalez died from restraint asphyxia and that he had deep bruising from blunt force trauma on his back and global swelling of his brain from lack of oxygen. The city said it will also pay Gonzalez's mother $350,000.