No Criminal Charges for Officers Involved in Mario Gonzalez Death

File photo--No criminal charges will be filed against the Alameda Police officer that detain Mario Gonzalez before his death.

No Criminal Charges for Officers Involved in Mario Gonzalez Death

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office (ACDAO) will not file criminal charges against the Alameda police officers involved in the altercation that led to the death of Mario Gonzalez.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley made her decision in her March 30 Final Report, which was released on Thursday, April 7, less than two weeks from the one-year anniversary of Gonzalez’s death on April 19, 2021.

In the 40-page report, O’Malley stated the “evidence does not support criminal charges being filed against any law enforcement official related to this incident.”

No further action will be taken in this case.

Gonzalez, 26, died after an altercation with Alameda Police Department (APD) officers Eric McKinley, James Fisher and Cameron Leahy (“Suspect Dies in Police Custody” April 20, 2021). The officers were called to the 800 block of Oak Street after neighbors called a non-emergency line to say a man, Gonzalez, appeared to be intoxicated and walking around a parklet in front of their homes. After speaking with Gonzalez for several minutes, body camera footage shows 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.

Gonzalez’s death was ruled a homicide by the Alameda County Coroner Bureau (ACCB) (“Coroner Report Released,” Dec. 14, 2021). However, the DA report emphasized that not all homicides are unlawful.

To determine whether the officers would face criminal charges, the ACDAO reviewed the arrest, detention, and use of force used on Gonzalez; whether they engaged in criminal negligence and/or malice; and the causation of Gonzalez’s death.

“We cannot conclude that the officers’ decision to detain and arrest Gonzalez was unreasonable in light of the number of possible criminal offenses observed, the inability to obtain any information from Gonzalez, and his unusual conduct,” O’Malley wrote. “Once handcuffed the evidence does not support the conclusion that the APD officers should have stopped their efforts to control a resisting Gonzalez. The law allows officers to use reasonable force to arrest or detain someone to overcome resistance.”

The report stated there was no evidence the officers were criminally negligent or used malice during their altercation. The report cited efforts by the officers to deescalate throughout the altercation by calmly engaging Gonzalez and the officers not using any available weapons.

For the causation analysis, to determine criminal liability the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers’ actions were the substantial cause of death.

O’Malley cited the ACCB report in determining whether the officers’ actions were a substantial factor in Gonzalez’s death. In the coroner report, Alameda County Chief Forensic Pathologist Dr. Vivian Snyder determined the “toxic effects of methamphetamine” was the leading cause in Gonzalez’s death. However, the report does state the “physiologic stress from the altercation and restraint by Alameda police officers was a contributing factor,” along with Gonzalez’s morbid obesity and alcoholism.

Nonetheless, O’Malley wrote that because the altercation and restraint was 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.

O’Malley offered condolences to the Gonzalez family in a separate statement Friday, April 8. “My sincere condolences go out to the family of Mr. Gonzalez at the time of his death and during this difficult time.”

The ACDAO investigation was conducted by its Critical Incident Team consisting of senior, assistant and deputy District Attorneys.

Two federal civil suits have been filed against the city and APD on behalf of Gonzalez’s mother, Edith Arenales, and his son, Mario Jr. The standard of proof is much lower in a civil trial than a criminal trial. In the suits, Gonzalez's family members allege he was illegally and unjustifiably restrained and police officers used unnecessary and excessive force.

Gonzalez’s death drew comparisons to the death of George Floyd, who also died in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for ten minutes. Derek Chauvin, one of the four officers involved in Floyd’s death, was convicted of murder the day after Gonzalez died.

The three officers remain on paid administrative leave. Louis Renne of Renne Public Law Group is conducting the city’s independent investigation.

To view a copy of the DA report, visit