Independent Review of Gonzalez Death Exonerates Officers

Independent Review of Gonzalez Death Exonerates Officers

An independent report released Wednesday, May 4, cleared the three Alameda Police Department (APD) officers of any wrongdoing in the in-custody death of Mario Gonzalez in April of last year.

The report was conducted by Louise Renne and her San Francisco law firm the Renne Public Law Group. The report addressed whether the officers violated any APD policies as they existed at the time of the incident.

The report ruled the three officers, Eric McKinley, James Fisher and Cameron Leahy, acted in conformity with department policy when they decided to conduct the field interview with Gonzalez, arrest Gonzalez and the use of force used against Gonzalez before he was taken to the ground. Renne’s report said although there was evidence the officers acted in conformity with department policy when they pinned Gonzalez down, “due to the limits of the body camera footage certain information could not be completely confirmed.”

The report also cleared City of Alameda parking technician Charles Clemmons of any wrongdoing. Clemmons assisted the officers with detaining Gonzalez, 26, by holding his legs at their request.

Renne’s firm interviewed 13 people in their investigation including the three officers and former APD Interim Chief Randy Fenn.

Gonzalez died on April 19, 2021, after the officers restrained him in the prone position. The officers were called to the 800 block of Oak Street after neighbors reported to the APD non-emergency line an intoxicated man, Gonzalez, was walking around a small parklet in front of their homes. Body-camera footage showed McKinley speaking with Gonzalez for nine minutes before he began to detain Gonzalez. The two other officers joined later and restrained Gonzalez face-down on the ground. The officers placed their body weight on Gonzalez for several minutes until he became unresponsive. He died later that day.

The City of Alameda hired Renne to conduct the independent review after Gonzalez’s death (“Gonzalez Investigations,” April 27, 2021). This is the second independent investigation into the actions of the three officers involved with Gonzalez’s death. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office report ruled that “evidence does not support criminal charges being filed against any law enforcement official related to this incident,” (“No Criminal Charges for Officers Involved in Mario Gonzalez Death,” April 9).

A third investigation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is ongoing. Renne is a former San Francisco City Attorney.



This means that it's APD policy to kill people face down in the dirt by stacking three grown men on them until they suffocate.

That's not quite the exoneration the headline would lead you to believe it is.