Family: Navy vet died after police knelt on his neck

Full Screen
1 / 2

This Jan. 4, 2018 photo provided by Isabella Collins, Navy veteran Angelo Quinto smiles at his home in Berkeley, Calif. Quinto who was going through an episode of paranoia died after a Northern California police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, his family said Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The family called police on Dec. 23 because the 30-year-old was suffering a mental health crisis and needed help. His family says a responding officer knelt on Quinto's neck for nearly five minutes while another officer restrained him. He lost consciousness and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died three days later. (Isabella Collins via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – A Navy veteran who was going through an episode of paranoia died after a Northern California police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, his family said Tuesday.

The family of Angelo Quinto called police on Dec. 23 because the 30-year-old was suffering a mental health crisis and needed help. His family says a responding officer knelt on Quinto’s neck for nearly five minutes while another officer restrained his legs. Quinto lost consciousness and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died three days later.

“He said ‘Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me,’ as they were putting him on the ground. They handcuffed him and one officer put his knee on the back of his neck the whole time I was in the room," said Quinto’s mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins.

Quinto-Collins said she had been hugging her son and he was calm when officers arrived at their home in Antioch, 45 miles (70 kilometers) east of San Francisco.

“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," she said.

A video recorded by Quinto-Collins shows her son listless, with a bloodied face and his hands cuffed behind his back. She said she began recording after seeing her son's eyes were rolled up in his head.

The family filed a legal claim against the Antioch Police Department last week, which gives the department 45 days to respond. After that time has elapsed, the family will file a federal lawsuit, said John Burris, the Quintos’ attorney.

“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.”