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Family of Man Suffocated by Antioch Police Restraint to Get $7.5 Million Settlement

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A sign says, 'Justice for Angelo Quinto' during a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Quinto at Antioch City Park on March 10, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The city of Antioch has agreed to a $7.5 million settlement with the family of Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Navy veteran who died at the hands of Antioch police officers in 2020, according to an attorney for his family.

Quinto was having a mental health emergency in his home on Dec. 23, 2020, when Antioch police forcibly restrained him, leading to his death by suffocation, according to the family’s civil rights lawsuit. That night, his family called police after he began to act paranoid and agitated.

Two officers arrived to find Quinto held in his mother’s arms and pulled him from her grasp, flipping him onto his stomach, according to a wrongful death claim filed by the family. As they did, Quinto called out, “Please don’t kill me,” at least twice, the claim said.

The officers crossed Quinto’s legs behind him and took turns kneeling on his neck, according to the claim, which said he started bleeding from his mouth after being restrained for nearly five minutes.

Paramedics began CPR and took Quinto to a hospital, where he was declared dead three days later.


Quinto’s family has been committed to improving the Antioch community’s relationship with the city police after his death, including pushing for changes to how the department responds to calls involving mentally or emotionally impaired individuals, said attorney John Burris, who announced the settlement in a press release on Wednesday.

“It’s really the only sense of justice we can get that really means anything to us,” Bella Collins-Quinto, Angelo Quinto’s sister, told KQED.

“If he couldn’t have life, we do believe he might choose this — this legacy, this role in ensuring that other families and victims of police violence don’t have to endure the same traumas that we’ve had.”

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Antioch police have introduced body-worn cameras, a mental health crisis team, and a mobile crisis unit, among other efforts to better respond to those suffering mental health emergencies.

Quinto’s family has also been active in the effort to ban the term “excited delirium” as a cause of death in California. They partnered with Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) to pass a bill banning the term and related phrases from being recognized as a medical diagnosis or cause of death in California.

“Excited delirium” was listed as the cause of death in Quinto’s initial autopsy, though a secondary autopsy commissioned by his family’s legal team found that suffocation in a restrained position was the cause of death. The Contra Costa County coroner who completed the initial autopsy later revised his opinion, agreeing with the secondary report.

Separate litigation over the classification of Quinto’s death is ongoing and should be decided later this year. Ben Nisenbaum, the family’s attorney, said they are seeking to have the death reclassified from an “accident” to a homicide.

Collins-Quinto said that she and her family plan to continue advocating for social justice reform within the Antioch Police Department and more broadly. Currently, they are pushing Contra Costa County to fully separate the county coroner’s office from the sheriff to ensure objectivity in the determination of cause and manner of death.

“Today might be the end of our civil suit, but we’ve only just really begun striving for social change,” she said.

This story was updated at 1:43 p.m. with additional reporting from KQED’s Tara Siler.

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