South Pasadena, CA – Attorneys for the family of a man who died in California Highway Patrol (CHP) custody after he was arrested for DUI released video that showed 38-year-old Edward Bronstein repeatedly screaming “I can’t breathe” as officers sought to subdue him (video below).
The incident occurred on March 31, 2020 after CHP officers stopped Bronstein for driving erratically on Interstate 5, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Officers arrested Bronstein, brought him into the CHP station in Altadena, and got a court order to draw his blood for the DUI investigation, KCAL reported.
But when officers tried to draw the blood, Bronstein resisted.
Bronstein’s family said he had a fear of needles, KCAL reported.
The 16-minute video recorded by a CHP sergeant began with Bronstein kneeling on a mat in the parking garage of the Altadena station with an officer standing behind him, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“You are bringing the fight to this, not us,” one of the officers said.
“I am not bringing the fight at all,” Bronstein replied.
“This is your last opportunity,” an officer off-camera told the man. “Otherwise, you’re going face-down on the mat, and we going to keep on going.”
Bronstein continued to refuse to allow his blood to be drawn, so officers surrounded him and flipped him down onto his belly on the mat, the video showed.
Just as he was taken down in the video, Bronstein can be heard yelling “I’ll do it willingly! I’ll do it willingly!”
Officer continued to hold Bronstein down as he struggled, the video showed.
He started yelling “I can’t breathe!” about minute into the struggle, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“He says, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Twelve times is what I counted,” attorney Michael Carrillo told reporters at a press conference after Bronstein’s family filed a federal lawsuit that claimed officers used excessive force that caused his death, according to KCAL.
The video showed that when Bronstein stopped struggling, the officers left him face-down while a nurse drew his blood.
He was face-down and appeared unresponsive in the video for six minutes before the officers tried to revive him.
The video showed one of the officers slapped Bronstein’s head as he remained face-down but got no reaction.
So the officers rolled him over and sat him up.
The autopsy showed the Bronstein had marijuana, alcohol, and methamphetamine in his system when he died, KCAL reported.
“Not one officer took the action to pull the others off of him, pull him to the side, do something to give him air,” Carrillo told the Los Angeles Times. “When they finally flip him over, he’s lifeless.”
The attorney said Bronstein’s family didn’t learn there was a video of their loved one’s death until after they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The state fought to keep the video sealed for two years but a federal trial judge ruled the family had a right to have and disclose the video.
It was released on March 15, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The state of California did not want us to release this video,” Carrillo said. “Thank God that the judge agreed with us, and that’s why you can now see this video. … It’s horrible, but it is the only way his family can get some justice.”
The family has sued for wrongful death, civil rights violations, assault and battery, and failure to render adequate medical care, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: