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7 California officers charged in death of LA motorist caught on video

An 18-minute video of the incident, recorded by one of the officers on the scene, shows Edward Bronstein handcuffed and on his knees.
Posted at 8:28 PM, Mar 31, 2023

Prosecutors charged seven California Highway Patrol officers and a nurse with involuntary manslaughter for the 2020 death of Edward Bronstein.

"These officers had a legal duty to Mr. Bronstein. He was in their custody. We believe that they failed their duty, and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death," said George Gascón, the Los Angeles County District Attorney. 

Bronstein was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. When he arrived at a CHP facility, several officers attempted to take a blood sample. He later died in custody.  

An 18-minute video of the incident, recorded by one of the officers on the scene, shows Bronstein handcuffed and on his knees.  

In the video, when Bronstein doesn’t comply with officers' demands, they are seen forcing him down onto his chest. While being restrained, Bronstein tells the officers "I’ll do it willingly, I promise!"

One officer responds, "it’s too late." 

Bronstein repeatedly tells the officers "I can’t breathe" during the altercation. Eventually, Bronstein’s body goes limp and a nurse takes a blood sample. 

Bronstein never regained consciousness and was later pronounced dead.  

"When they turn him over six minutes after his last scream, he is completely lifeless. The officers in the medical profession slap Bronstein's face, shouting to him to wake up. More than 13 minutes after Mr. Bronstein's last screams, they begin CPR, but are unsuccessful," Gascón said.  

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These charges come on the heels of Irvo Otieno and Tyre Nichols deaths — instances in which a large group of officers were also criminally charged for an in-custody death.  

Paul David Henderson is Executive Director of Police Accountability for the city of San Francisco. 

"Law enforcement isn't supposed to kill you, even if you're guilty. I counted over a dozen times where he had indicated clearly, and you could hear it audibly in the video, where he was saying 'I can't breathe.' And I wanted to see a reaction from the people that were charged with his care. And that's an important part of the analysis, that these are individuals that are charged with his care, even though he was in custody, even though they were trying to do a blood draw," Henderson said. 

The California Highway Patrol Commissioner Sean Duryee offered his condolences in a statement saying, "I am saddened that Mr. Bronstein died while in our custody and care. Any death in custody is a tragedy that we take with utmost seriousness." 

Scripps News reached out to the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the union which represents the CHP, but have not heard back. 

An attorney representing the nurse’s employer called her charges "outrageous and irresponsible." 

He went on to say "I am not aware of anyone who has opined that the nurse’s conduct in any way caused or contributed to this unfortunate death. It starts with evaluating the law enforcement agencies because they are taking the lead, but the outside agencies like the fire department, like medical professionals are engaged and they have an independent responsibility when they are charged with engaging with someone, be it a suspect, a defendant, a witness or whatever."

Bronstein’s death was cited as part of the reason California Governor Gavin Newsom expanded the state’s ban on chokeholds to include certain face-down strangleholds as well.