7 CHP Officers Charged In Los Angeles Motorist Death Caught On Video

Seven California Highway Patrol officers and a nurse were charged with manslaughter on Wednesday in connection with the death of a man who shouted “I can’t breathe!” as they attempted to draw blood from him, prosecutors said.

Edward Bronstein was suspected of driving while intoxicated in 2020 when he was apprehended and later died in CHP custody at the agency’s Altadena station.

The six officers and a sergeant who filmed the deadly encounter with Bronstein have been charged with manslaughter and assault under the guise of authority, according to Los Angeles County Dist. Atti. George Gascon. A nurse at the scene was also charged with manslaughter, Gascón said.

“These officers had a legal obligation to Mr. Bronstein,” Gascón said when announcing the charges. “He was in their custody…and their failure was criminal negligence.”

The officers charged were Sgt. Michael Little, Dionisio Fiorella, Dusty Osmanson, Darren Parsons, Diego Romero, Justin Silva and Marciel Terry, according to Tiffiny Blacknell, director of communications for the district attorney’s office. The nurse has been identified as Arbi Baghalian.

It was unclear whether any of the officers had been arrested or when they would appear in court. Gascón refused to answer reporters’ questions and left the room after viewing video of the fatal incident. Blacknell was unable to respond to additional questions from reporters and did not immediately respond to an email request from The Times.

The charges come nearly three years after the death of Bronstein, a 38-year-old Burbank resident. Video released as part of a civil trial last year shows Bronstein’s desperate final moments, screaming ‘I can’t breathe’ as officers grapple with him and attempt to forcibly draw his blood after an arrest and a vehicle arrest in March 2020.

Bronstein was stopped by Osmanson on Highway 5 on suspicion of driving under the influence, and taken to the Altadena train station. Once there, officers attempted to draw his blood to measure Bronstein’s alcohol level, but he refused.

In a 16-minute video recorded by Little, which Gascón released during Wednesday’s press conference, Bronstein can be seen kneeling on the ground as a gloved officer presses his hands to his shoulders and an officer outside champ orders Bronstein to comply with a court-ordered blood draw.

Family photo showing Edward Bronstein with his daughter, Isabella Bronstein.

(Bronstein family photo)

After a long back and forth, Bronstien yells that he will comply with the officer’s demands. But other officers can then be seen surrounding him and holding him down with their body weight as he repeatedly cries out in distress.

“I promise, I promise! Bronstein can be heard pleading, but an officer replied that it was “too late” while continuing to press Bronstein. After being pinned down for almost a minute, Bronstein said, “I can’t breathe!” during the blood draw.

About a minute later, Bronstein relaxes and stops responding to officers, according to the video. Officers can be seen trying to revive him. One calls out his name and slaps him on the side of the head as he remains face down. But several minutes pass before officers attempt to provide oxygen or CPR.

Someone can be seen repeatedly checking Bronstein’s neck and wrists for a pulse, but no officer appears to respond with urgency. A person can be seen playing with the vials of blood taken from Bronstein as his body is laid down.

“Our agency’s top priority is to protect the safety and well-being of all Californians, and I am saddened that Mr. Bronstein died while in our custody and care,” the commissioner said. of CHP, Sean Duryee, in a statement. “Any death in custody is a tragedy that we take very seriously. I recognize that this case will now go through the court system, and I respect the court process. »

The seven officers are currently on administrative leave, according to an agency spokesperson.

A report from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office could not conclusively determine Bronstein’s cause of death, but attributed it to “acute methamphetamine, intoxication during law enforcement restraint “.

Luis Carrillo, the Bronstein family’s attorney, said there was only a “trace” of methamphetamine in the victim’s system and argued that the officers’ actions were the primary cause of death. Bronstein was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.07% at the time of the incident, below the legal limit, according to Carrillo

Carrillo previously told The Times that the video was not part of standard CHP protocol and was shot by a sergeant. Although CHP cars have dash cameras, officers do not wear body cameras.

“I suspect they shot it for training purposes and then later realized they had to reveal its existence,” he said.

Edward Tapia, the victim’s father, said his son had no substance abuse issues and was a reformed gang member who wanted to work as an airplane mechanic. He was working in his father’s body shop at the time of his death. Tapia and Carrillo said that while they thought Gascón should have filed second-degree murder charges, they were happy to see someone held accountable.

“I’m glad we came to this so that (the police) can’t hurt anyone else,” Tapia said. “I miss my son so much but…I don’t know what else to say. I think when you see the video you will understand.

Los Angeles Times

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