Officials: 7 California Highway Patrol officers charged in connection to death of man in custody

LOS ANGELES — Seven California Highway Patrol officers and a registered nurse were charged Wednesday after the in-custody death of a man in 2020, officials say.

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In a news release, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said on Wednesday that the officers and nurse were charged in connection with the death of Edward Brontein, 38.

The seven officers have each been charged with a count of involuntary manslaughter and a count of assault by an officer, the DA’s office said. The seven officers have been identified as Dionisio Fiorella, Michael Little, Dustin Osmanson, Darren Parsons, Diego Romero, Justin Silva, and Marciel Terry. The nurse was identified as Arbi Baghalian; they have been charged with a count of involuntary manslaughter.

Bronstein was taken into custody by officers with the California Highway Patrol on March 31, 2020, during a traffic stop, according to The Associated Press. He died a couple of months before George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by police officers.

Bronstein was pulled over for suspected driving under the influence, He was taken by officers to a California Highway Patrol parking lot in the area where they got a warrant to take his blood. He reportedly refused at first but then agreed to comply, the DA’s office said.

The DA’s office said six officers are “accused of forcing a handcuffed Bronstein to the ground and pinning him down,” as Baghalian was taking his blood. He told officers that he could not breathe but as the blood drawing continued, Bronstein became unresponsive. Bronstein was held facedown for about six minutes. Ten minutes after he first became unresponsive, the officers tried to give him CPR but he never regained consciousness. He was later pronounced dead.

The Los Angeles County coroner said Brownstein’s death was caused by “acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement,” according to the AP.

Last year, due to a judge’s order, an 18-minute video was released that showed how officers treated Bronstein, the AP reported.

“For the system to work, people must be able to trust law enforcement. Police accountability is critical to building that trust, and it is necessary for public safety. I promise Mr. Bronstein’s family and our community that I will continue to advocate for stronger accountability in use-of-force cases and an independent review of deaths that occur while in law enforcement custody,” District Attorney George Gascón said in the news release.

If convicted, each officer is facing up to four years in prison, according to the AP.

The DA’s office said an arraignment has not been scheduled.

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