On March 31, 2020, California Highway Patrol officers pulled over Edward Bronstein for a traffic stop. He later died in police custody less than two months before George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. Today (March 29), Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that prosecutors were charging seven CHP officers and a responding nurse with involuntary manslaughter for Bronstein’s death.
The incident sadly parallels that of Floyd’s. The 38-year-old father was pinned to the ground by the officers as they attempted to take a blood sample. A nearly 18-minute video released last year showed Bronstein repeatedly telling officers, “I can’t breathe” as they restrained him. The LA County coroner listed his cause of death as “acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement.”
“The officers had a legal duty to Mr. Bronstein,” Gascón declared in a news conference today, according to the AP. “He was in their custody. We believe that they failed their duty and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death.”
California Highway Patrol Commissioner Sean Duryee gave his condolences to the Bronstein family for his officers’ misconduct that resulted in his death nearly three years ago. He also acknowledged that keeping Californians safe and sound should be his department’s biggest priority. “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,” Duryee said. “I recognize this case will now move through the court system, and I respect the judicial process.”
Six CHP officers and one sergeant were charged in his death with one count each of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of assault under the color of authority. They each face a sentence of up to four years in prison. The registered nurse, meanwhile, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. An arraignment to bring the offenders into custody has yet to be scheduled.