Independent Autopsy Declares Gonzalez Died from Restraint Asphyxiation

Credit: GoFundMe A second autopsy declared Mario Gonzlez's death was caused by restraint Asphyxiation. Gonzalez's son Mario Jr.'s lawyers commission the independent autopsy.

Independent Autopsy Declares Gonzalez Died from Restraint Asphyxiation

According to a second autopsy report conducted by an independent pathologist, Mario Gonzalez died because of restraint asphyxiation after an altercation with three Alameda police officers.

The report, which was released Wednesday, April 27, was commissioned by the Oakland law firm, Haddad & Sherwin. The firm is representing Gonzalez’s son, Mario Jr., in a federal civil lawsuit against the City of Alameda and the three officers, Eric McKinley, James Fisher and Cameron Leahy, who restrained Gonzalez.

The independent autopsy was conducted by well-known forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet I. Omalu. Omalu found acute, severe swelling and congestion in Gonzalez's lungs and swelling of his brain, from the lack of oxygen and asphyxiation, according to the report. Omalu believes this was the leading cause of Gonzalez’s death.

“The lethality of the asphyxial brain injury in this case far exceeds and supersedes, the lethality of Methamphetamine toxicity, and asphyxial brain injury will assume the underlying cause of death,” the report states.

This claim refutes the findings of the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau’s (ACCB) autopsy report (“Coroner Report Released,” Dec. 14, 2021), which stated “the toxic effects of methamphetamine” was the leading cause in Gonzalez’s death.

According to the independent report, deaths from Methamphetamine are rare. “Statistical estimates indicate that about 13 million people, 12 years and older, in the United States have reported using Methamphetamine. Only about 100,000 people (0.77%) visit the emergency department for Methamphetamine toxicity annually, and only about 3,000 people (0.02%) die from Methamphetamine toxicity annually.”

Omalu’s report noted that the amount of Methamphetamine (0.907 mg/L) and Amphetamine (0.134 mg/L) found in Gonzalez’s system meant he had consumed the drugs within hours of his death. However, the report indicates 0.01 to 2.5 mg/L13 of Methamphetamine is a non-toxic range in individuals who use the drug recreationally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Mr. Gonzalez-Arenales was a chronic drug user, and people who use Methamphetamine chronically develop drug tolerance and habituation,” the report stated. “Therefore, levels of 0.907 mg/L of Methamphetamine and 0.134 mg/L of Amphetamine may not be of such a significant forensic consequence as it would have been for an individual who has never used Methamphetamine.”

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced no charges will be filed against the three Alameda police officers involved in the altercation that led to Gonzalez’s death (“No Criminal Charges for Officers Involved in Mario Gonzalez Death,” April 9). In O’Malley’s final report detailing her decision, she used the ACCB report's causation of Gonzalez’s death when deciding not to press charges.

"Because the altercation and restraint were a contributing factor and ‘not the cause of death,’ it creates a significant challenge in proving beyond a reasonable doubt, the officers’ actions were a substantial factor in causing death,” wrote O’Malley.

Omalu’s report will not lead to a reversal of O’Malley’s decision. However, the independent report might impact the two federal civil lawsuits against the city and the police officers. Along with Mario Jr.’s lawsuit, Mario’s Gonzalez’s mom, Edith Arenales, has filed a similar federal civil lawsuit.

According to reports, Haddad & Sherwin paid Omalu $16,000 to conduct the independent autopsy. The autopsy was performed on April 27, 2021. Omalu is a nationally recognized forensic pathologist who is known for discovering and publishing findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in American football players. Actor Will Smith portrayed Omalu in the 2015 film Concussion.

Gonzalez died after an altercation with the three police officers on April 19, 2021. The officers were called to the 800 block of Oak Street after neighbors reported Gonzalez was walking in front of their homes and appeared to be intoxicated. After speaking with Gonzalez for several minutes, body camera footage showed McKinley attempting to detain Gonzalez. A struggle ensued. Fisher assisted McKinley in detaining Gonzalez. During the struggle, the officers took Gonzalez to the ground. Leahy arrived later and assisted his colleagues. After the three officers placed their body weight on Gonzalez for several minutes, he became unresponsive. They used CPR on Gonzalez, but he was pronounced dead later that day. The three officers have been on administrative leave since the incident.

To read Omalu's report, visit A GoFundMe page for Mario Jr. has been created by his mother Andrea Cortez. To donate, visit



The independent autopsy was completed five days after the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau completed their official autopsy in April of 2021. The independent autopsy was not signed off by the pathologist until January of 2022 after the official autopsy was publicly released (“Coroner Report Released,” Dec. 14, 2021). Not a coincidence.

The family’s hired pathologist Dr. Bennet I Omalu has a history of “pay to play” and several of his prior reports have been deemed non-credible in public court. This is public information...look it up. The official Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau autopsy was not only conducted by an Alameda County official, but it was also peer reviewed extensively in another county once it was completed. Funny how people would rather believe a non-peer reviewed independent autopsy the Gonzalez family paid $16,000 over the official Alameda County autopsy.

Additionally, it’s funny how no one questions why the independent autopsy was kept secret and released now. Why was it not publicly released prior to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley declining to press charges on the officers involved? How about we start to use some basic critical analysis.