Two members of the Antioch, Calif., Police Department killed 30-year-old Navy veteran Angelo Quinto in his home on Dec. 23, 2020, while he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
Quinto’s mother and sister, who witnessed the horrific death of their loved one, initially called the police believing they would help Quinto through his crisis. However, the officers instead forced him out of his mother’s arms and kneeled on his neck for more than five minutes even as he pleaded for the officers not to kill him.
Quinto, described by his family as caring and artistic, graduated from high school in 2008 and attended Berkeley City College prior to joining the Navy. At a Feb. 18 press conference, his family detailed how he suffered from anxiety, and the family’s lawyer John L. Burris said Quinto “had a basic fear of police as many men do.”
Burris has also represented the family of Miles Hall, who was killed at age 23 by neighboring Walnut Creek police under similar circumstances in 2019. Hall’s mother called her local police department during a mental health crisis. The department was familiar with her son’s schizoaffective disorder. Instead of using de-escalation tactics, officers killed Hall.
Police killings of those experiencing mental health emergencies are nothing new. A study conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center concluded that “individuals with untreated severe mental illness are involved in at least 1 in 4 and as many as half of all fatal police shootings.” A mental health crisis should not be a death sentence.
Uprising in response to police terror
This terror deployed by police forces against oppressed communities and poor and working-class people is what prompted last summer’s massive uprising following the lynching of George Floyd. Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25, using the same knee-to-neck technique employed the officers who killed Angelo Quinto.
Antioch residents also participated in the uprising. They demanded that their own police union president Steve Aiello be fired after he encouraged police violence against protesters in a Facebook post.
Aiello’s actions are unsurprising given Antioch Police Department’s history of supporting killer cops. In 2020, the department hired Michael Mellone, a former San Francisco police officer who killed Luis Gongora Pat, an unarmed houseless man in 2016, even after massive community push back.
The racist Antioch Police Department has refused to cooperate with Quinto’s family regarding identifying the officers or whether body cameras were worn during the murder.
Quinto’s family and lawyer have since called for the public to rise up again to challenge racist and deadly policing policies. Using Instagram, his family has called for the public to attend Antioch City Council meetings and demand the deadly knee-to-neck restraint method be banned. They’re also demanding that city funds be diverted towards a non-police mental-health crisis response team.
Burris believes that legal pressure is not the only way to prevent more deaths of people of color by the Antioch Police Department and to receive justice for Quinto: “The other way to handle this is through community pressure. Politicians, as you know, respond to community pressure. So I encourage activity.”
Updates and calls to action can be found here.
Image: Public Facebook page