Story at a glance

  • Navy veteran Angelo Quinto died after police knelt on his neck while responding to a mental health emergency.
  • His family asserts that he was improperly restrained, which ultimately led to his death.

In a case that mirrors the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement, a U.S. navy veteran who was experiencing a mental health crisis died when a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, his family says.

Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Navy veteran, suffered a mental health crisis on Dec. 23, 2020. His family contacted the Antioch police outside of San Francisco in Northern California to help, CBS reports

Quinto’s mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, says she was holding her son as police arrived. A video of the encounter shows police removing Quinto from his mother’s grasp and placing him on the ground, where they held him down by placing a knee on his neck and began restraining him.

The family’s lawyer, John L. Burris, told the press that when they turned Quinto over, he was unconscious and bleeding from his neck. 

Quinto later died at the hospital three days later.

Burris also confirmed that police knelt on Quinto’s neck for about five minutes. 

"I trusted the police because I thought they knew what they were doing but he was actually passive and visibly not dangerous or a threat, so it was absolutely unnecessary what they did to him," Quinto-Collins said.

Burris noted that during the officers’ response, they failed to follow protocol that included activating body cameras and properly de-escalating the situation.

Quinto’s family has filed a claim against the Antioch Police Department. The department has 45 days to respond, and after that time, Burris confirmed that the family will file a federal lawsuit against the department.

"I refer to it as the George Floyd technique, that's what snuffed the life out of him and that cannot be a lawful technique," Burris said. "We see not only violations of his civil rights but also violations against the rights of his mother and sister's, who saw what happened to him."

Official autopsy results are pending, with Antioch Police Lt. Tarra Mendes telling the East Bay Times that the investigation remains ongoing.

“I want to bring him back but if we can’t do that, we want justice in any way we can get it,” his sister, Bella Collins, said at the conference.

Published on Feb 24, 2021