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Navy vet died after cops knelt on his neck during mental health check, family claims

Police lights (Dreamstime/TNS)
February 22, 2021

A Navy veteran died in December after police knelt on his neck for almost five minutes while responding to a mental health check, the victim’s family said in a new report released Monday.

According to the Washington Post, Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Navy veteran, was suffering from a mental health crisis, prompting his family to call 9-11. After the police arrived, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, the man’s mother, reportedly watched one responding officer kneel on her son’s neck for almost five minutes.  

Quinto later died in a local hospital.

In a video taken by his mother Quinto-Collins during the December 23 ordeal, Quinto is seen lying on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back as two police officers huddle over him in Quinto’s Antioch, Calif., home.

“What happened?” Quinto-Collins is heard asking, as one of the officers shakes Quinto while calling his name.

As the video goes on, one of the officers removes Quinto’s handcuffs and four officers roll him onto a stretcher. Blood can be seen on the side of the veteran’s face and the floor where he was lying.

“Does he have a pulse?” Quinto-Collins asked, at which point one officer starts performing CPR on her son.

“You didn’t see him take anything? No illegal drugs?” one officer asks.

“I have no idea. It’s like what I said, I came home from work and he was sleeping,” Quinto-Collins responded.

With weeks since the incident and virtually no answers from the Antioch Police Department, Quinto’s family said their own examination shows police failed to follow the correct procedures for mental health emergencies, with one of the officers asphyxiating the veteran.

“They put … the knee on the back of his neck and pressed down for about five minutes and snuffed his life out,” John Burris, the family’s attorney, said during a news conference Thursday.

The Post reported that the family has filed a legal claim, a step toward suing the department.

Antioch police have not released any public statements regarding Quinto’s death, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that the Contra Costa County district attorney and sherrif’s office are conducting an investigation.

According to the Chronicle, Quinto was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2019. His family said Quinto started experiencing paranoia and anxiety following an assault last year, and on December 23, started behaving erratically. Quinto’s sister, Isabella Collins, called 9-11 who arrived to find Quinto’s mother embracing him on the floor.

When the officers pinned Quinto on his stomach, his mother said the veteran pleaded for his life.

“He said, ‘Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me,’” she told KTVU.

Following his death on December 26, Lt. John Fortner, an Antioch police spokesperson, said the police did not use any physical force, a claim Quinto’s family says is untrue.

“I’m always going to regret calling the police and hope no one has to regret doing what they think is the right thing,” Collins told KTVU.