On December 23, 2020, Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Navy veteran, was experiencing a mental health crisis, and instead of helping him, the police killed him in a similar manner to George Floyd, with a knee to his neck.
Cassandra Quinto-Collins, Quinto’s mother was told by the officer who knelt on her son’s neck for over 4 minutes that what he was doing was standard protocol for sedating a person experiencing a mental breakdown.
She told Associated Press, she was watching the whole time and “just trusted that they knew what they were doing.” When she began filming him, he was already unresponsive, never regaining consciousness and passing away 3 days later.
Quinto’s sister had called 911 for help calming him down during an episode of paranoia on Dec. 23. His family, who live in Antioch, said Quinto didn’t resist the officers — one who pushed his knee on the back of his neck, and another who restrained his legs — and the only noise he made was when he twice cried out, “Please don’t kill me.”
The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, as it took the police department over a month to share the details of the circumstances of Quinto’s death. Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks said, “At no point did any officer use a knee, or other body parts to gain leverage or apply pressure to Angelo’s head, neck, or throat, which is outside of our police and training” and “at one point an officer repositioned to control Quinto’s legs, which officers say were thrashing around. Officers called an ambulance and more police arrived on the scene. After, Quinto was no longer conscious and was “immediately” rushed to the hospital. He was later transferred to an intensive care unit, where he died three days later.” However, the department did not make details of Quinto’s death public until questioned by East Bay Times, and the investigation is still ongoing.
John Burris, the Quinto’s attorney said along with claims of a knee restraint, there were other issues with the officers’ response, including how they didn’t try to de-escalate and first talk to Quinto, and how they failed to turn on their body cameras and the camera in their patrol car. Police are typically taught how to de-escalate situations in their jobs however when it comes to mental health they receive little to no training, they are not taught to listen and be non violent when it comes to such situations.
Mentally challenged individuals have always been a target of the police and when contacted for help, their situations are typically met with unnecessary violence that at times can lead to their death. This is not the first case recorded of a family member calling the police for assistance with their child or sibling, but this one has sparked outrage as it acknowledges police brutality, in the way they handle mental health issues.
According to Treatment Advocacy Center, a site that discusses the criminalization of mental health, people with mental health are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement. According to John Snook, a co-author in this study, he addressed this issue as “patently unfair, illogical and proving harmful both to the individuals in desperate need of care and the officer who is forced to respond.” By not having legislative policies address this issue, it causes these mental health crises and neither party knows how to deal with the problem in a safe manner.
Proposals for additional training when dealing with mental health are being pushed. Antioch is now in the process of developing a mental health crisis team and a requirement of the use of body cameras.