Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

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A DUI suspect died while being held down by California Highway Patrol officers at the Altadena CHP station after repeatedly screaming, “I can’t breathe!,” according to video footage released this week by the man’s family, who are demanding the officers be held accountable. (See video below).

The fatal incident occurred March 31, 2020, almost two months before George Floyd was killed, turning the phrase, “I can’t breathe” into a national rallying cry against excessive force by police. The five or six CHP officers who held down 38-year-old Edward Bronstein as he lost consciousness have not been charged with any crime. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office ruled that Bronstein died from “acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement.”

Bronstein’s family on Tuesday called for the Los Angeles district attorney to file criminal charges against the officers. The family filed a federal lawsuit against the CHP officers and a medical aid contracted by the CHP.

At a press conference Wednesday, attorneys for the Bronstein family released a nearly 18-minute video showing his final moments.

It begins with Bronstein handcuffed and kneeling while refusing to submit to a blood test after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence on the Golden State (5) Freeway. An off-camera officer warns him that he has one more chance to submit voluntarily before officers hold him down to draw his blood.

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“This is wrong,” Bronstein mumbles in the video.

“You’re bringing the fight to this, not us,” an officer tells him.

“Just give me a minute, ok? Please,” Bronstein asks.

As several officers push him to the ground, Bronstein begins screaming. “Please no! I’ll do it willingly. I’ll do it willingly! I’ll do it willingly! I promise.”

Five officers hold him down to the ground, and at least two officers in the video appear to use a knee to pin him down.

That’s when Bronstein starts screaming, “I can’t breathe!” He’s loud at first, but then his voice grows fainter each time he yells it.

“Stop yelling,” one of the officers responds.

“You’re pushing on my throat,” Bronstein says.

It’s the last distinguishable phrase he says before going quiet and appearing to lose consciousness. The officers continue to hold him down for several more minutes as the blood draw is completed. They check for his pulse, shake him, and tap his face repeatedly to try to wake him, but it’s more than 10 minutes before CPR is performed, the video shows. Bronstein never regained consciousness and died in CHP custody.

The LA County District Attorney’s Office has said the matter is under review, and the California Highway Patrol declined to comment due to the pending litigation.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Bronstein’s parents and his four children alleges excessive force, negligence, assault and battery, conspiracy, wrongful death, violations of Bronstein’s civil rights and failure to provide medical care. The suit names CHP officers Carlos Villanueva, Christopher Sanchez-Romero, Darren Parsons, Diego Romero, Dusty Osmanson, Eric Voss, Justin Silva, Dionisio Fiorella, Marciel Terry and Sgt. Michael Little. It also names Arbi Baghalian, a medical aid employed by the CHP, accusing Baghalian of breach of duty.

Edward Bronstein and child. ( courtesy of the Carrillo Law Firm LLP)
The state attorney general’s office is representing the CHP and fought in court to keep the video sealed.

“The state of California did not want us to re

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