Los Angeles DA announces charges against CHP officers, nurse over death of man in their custody
LOS ANGELES – Six California Highway Patrol officers, a sergeant, and a registered nurse have been charged for the in-custody death of a 38-year-old man.
LA County DA George Gascón announced the charges Wednesday against CHP Sergeant Michael Little, and officers Dionisio Fiorella, Dusty Osmanson, Darren Parsons, Diego Romero, Justin Silva and Marciel Terry. All were charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of assault under the color of authority. Registered nurse Arbi Baghalian was also charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter. They all face a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.
On March 21, 2020 Edward Bronstein was pulled over by CHP officers on the 5 Freeway for suspicion of driving under the influence. He was taken to the Altadena CHP station where he declined to have a blood test. An 18-minute video, recorded by the CHP sergeant, shows officers warning Bronstein that if he doesn’t comply he “is going to be put face down on the mat and we’re going to keep on going.”
The video then shows several officers restraining him. According to Gascón, Bronstein was handcuffed and face down on a mat in the station’s garage as he pleaded for his life. The group of officers hold him down and press their knees on his legs as Bronstein repeatedly tells them he’ll comply, however, one officer can be heard saying “it’s too late.”
Gascón said Bronstein screamed ‘I can’t breathe’ over and over again while officers continued to restrain him and even demanded he stop yelling.
“Mr. Bronstein’s shrieks get softer until he is silent. He is unresponsive when a medical professional draws his blood and officers hold him down. Unresponsive when they take a second vial of blood, laying so lifelessly that the officers no longer need to hold him down because he’s dying as they watched,”Gascón said during Wednesday’s press conference.
“When they turn him over, six minutes after his last scream, he is completely lifeless,” Gascón added.
The officers and medical professionals then slap his face and shout at him to wake up. Gascón said about 13 minutes after Bronstein’s last scream, officers begin CPR but are unsuccessful.
“These officers had a legal duty to Mr. Bronstein. He was in their custody. We believe that they failed in their duty and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death,” Gascón stated.
CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee released the following statement, “On behalf of the entire California Highway Patrol, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Edward Bronstein. Our agency’s top priority is protecting the safety and well-being of all Californians, and I am saddened that Mr. Bronstein died while in our custody and care. Any death in custody is a tragedy that we take with upmost seriousness. I recognize this case will now move through the court system, and I respect the judicial process.”