“Please don’t kill me.”
“Please don’t kill me” — these were the last few words that Angelo Quinto said before being forced to the ground and handcuffed.
The 30-year-old, Fil-Am and Navy veteran is now dead.
The Filipino American community should be outraged and demand an independent investigation over the killing of Angelo who allegedly died after police kneeled on his neck for five minutes, similar to the restraining technique used on George Floyd. The incident occurred on Dec. 23, 2020 when police were called to the Quinto home in Northern California by Angelo’s sister who was worried about the mental condition of her brother. The family said Angelo had mental health issues and would slip into paranoia after he sustained a head injury from an assault in early 2020.
By the time police arrived, Angelo’s mother said he already had calmed down. But she said the police still restrained him. “One officer was holding his legs and the other officer had his knee here,” said Cassandra Quinto-Collins (mother of Angelo), gesturing to the back of her neck.
“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.
Angelo eventually lost consciousness. Blood flowed out of his mouth. He never regained consciousness. Three days later he died in the hospital.
Cassandra began recording the police after she said she saw her son’s eyes were rolled up in his head. The video shows her son’s body on the floor, bloodied face. His hands cuffed.
The Quinto family is now suing the Antioch Police Department. An investigation is ongoing.
The family’s attorney John Burris said, “There are a lot of issues wrong here. The technique applied by officers. The failure to de-escalate. The jumping on his back, the putting into his neck by a knee.
“Given what we know, which is that we had a healthy young man in his mother’s arms. The police grabbed him. They themselves, their conduct, snuffed the life out of him. We see that not only as a violation of his civil rights but it’s a violation of humanity, frankly.”
Burris also mentioned that police failed to turn on their body cameras and the camera in their patrol car.
Death shouldn’t have happened
While the details of the incident are still under investigation, there are glaring misconduct by the police officers.
The knee-to-neck restraining is widely discredited by law enforcement experts because it can cause suffocation. And it shouldn’t have been used, period.
Angelo was not armed. He has no history of criminal behavior. The police weren’t even entering a crime scene. There were no reports of violence, just a family concerned over another family member’s mental health anxiety. That reason alone should have prompted police to attempt de-escalation. Police are trained for that. But they failed.
Police should already be aware that their presence alone could be viewed as threatening, especially to someone who isn’t mentally together at the time. If Angelo showed visible signs of anxiety, it shouldn’t have been cue for police to use aggressive force, and definitely not restraining by knee-to-neck, a technique that should be illegal.
Police working with mental health professionals
Whether the Antioch police officers received training to handle mental health situations has not been stated in reports. But they should have been. In addition, all police departments should have a mental health professional on-call to handle situations like Angelo’s where an urgent mental health crisis, not a crime, is needed to be addressed safely. A health professional could have prevented.
Angelo’s death. Antioch is located East of the San Francisco Bay Area and certainly there’s no shortage of mental health professionals willing to work with the Antioch police on some kind of program.
The incident took place on Dec. 23. It took the Antioch Police almost one month on Jan. 25 to inform the public of Quinto’s death only when a local newspaper started to ask questions about the incident. Given the heightened public awareness of police misconduct nationally, it shouldn’t have taken that long. In fact, it’s downright insensitive, a poor handling of public relations, and not a smart way to keep community trust in law enforcement.
Was Race a factor?
There is no evidence at this moment to suggest racism in policing occurred. But that must be investigated. The public should be made aware of this police officer’s record, if he has had any complaints filed against him, if so, for what reason; or if he had been disciplined in any way that went against Antioch Police policy.
Angelo was born in the Philippines. Was there a communication problem between the immigrant family and police? There are many unanswered questions that must be investigated.
We hope the Filipino-American media report on this incident and the Filipino-American community rally to demand transparency and accountability. Make no mistake this was a tragic act of police brutality; completely avoidable with proper police training. Incidences like it must not be repeated. Policing reform must continue to be a high priority in communities throughout the nation.
Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Quinto family. We demand that justice be served.
“Please don’t kill me.”