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CHP officers charged for ‘involuntary manslaughter’ during 2020 traffic stop

The charges are extended to a nurse and sergeant who are believed to have assisted in the death if a California civilian.

"CHP Badge By Phil Konstantin" by Officer Phil is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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On March 31, 2020, Edward Bronstein was pulled over and taken into custody on the 5 Freeway in Burbank by two California Highway Patrol officers under suspicion of driving under the influence. A video filmed by the sergeant shows a handcuffed Bronstein being led into their Altadena station’s garage, where officers informed him they had a court order to obtain a sample of his blood.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon [gasc-ON] announced the charges in Bronstein’s death, which the LA County coroner said was caused by “acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement.” The officers had obtained a warrant to draw Bronstein’s blood before forcing him to the ground and piling their weight on top of him. Here is Gascon:

An arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

Last March, a judge hearing the family’s wrongful death lawsuit ordered the release of an 18-minute video of what happened at the station. Please be advised as the following audio is disturbing.

That was Bronstein crying on His knees repeatedly that he can’t breathe and even screaming that he would do the blood draw willingly as the officers press his body onto the ground. But the officers respond that it’s too late as Bronstein’s voice gets softer and softer until eventually falling silent. While he is unresponsive, the nurse works to draw the blood of pinned down Bronstein. It takes over 10 minutes to pass since his last screams for officers realize he does not have a pulse and begin CPR.

Bronstein never regained consciousness and was later pronounced dead. The seven officers face one count each of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of assault under the color of authority. The DA’s office also charged the registered nurse who obtained the blood sample with involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, they could get up to four years in prison.

If this incident sounds familiar, it may be because Bronstein died less than two months before George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis as he too told police offers, repeatedly, that he couldn’t breathe. Almost a year and a half later, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that barred police from using certain face down holds that have led to multiple unintended deaths. They include putting a suspect face down and then applying pressure on their backs with hands, elbows, or knees. The bill expanded on the state’s existing ban on chokeholds in the wake of Floyd’s murder.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Spencer Cline.