Mario Gonzalez

Mario Gonzalez's In-Custody Death Ruled a Homicide

Mario Gonzalez, 26, died April 19, as he was being restrained by police in Alameda

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The death of Mario Gonzalez in April as he was being restrained by Alameda police employees has been ruled a homicide by the Alameda County coroner's bureau, the city's police chief said Friday.

Gonzalez, 26, died April 19, as he was being restrained outside 802 Oak St. in Alameda. He allegedly appeared to be under the influence and police thought he may have been involved in a theft.

Police restrained him on the ground for several minutes and he went unconscious. Attempts were made to revive him, and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

The cause of Gonzalez's death was "the toxic effects of methamphetamine, with the physiological stress of altercation and restraint, morbid obesity, and alcoholism contributing to the process of dying," the coroner's autopsy report said.

The four police employees involved in Gonzalez's death are Officer James Fisher, hired by the city in 2010; officers Cameron Leahy and Eric McKinley, hired by the city in 2018; and parking enforcement employee Charlie Clemmens.

"Anytime someone loses their life, it is a tragedy," Alameda Police Chief Nishant Joshi said in a statement.

He again extended his condolences to Gonzalez's family.

"I know they are already suffering the severe trauma of losing a loved one," Joshi said. "The new information being released adds to that pain."

Joshi said the officers involved in the altercation with Gonzalez are on administrative leave and their peace officer rights are suspended. That means the officers are prohibited from enforcing laws and are not authorized to carry a badge, police ID and a gun as an officer.

That's at least until an investigation is complete, and Joshi ensures the safety of the community, he said.

Clemmens is not being scheduled for work, city spokeswoman Sarah Henry said.

Prosecutors in Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley's office must decide whether to file charges against the police employees.

O'Malley recently leveled charges against former San Leandro Police Sgt. Jason Fletcher over the shooting death of an alleged shoplifter at a Walmart store. That was the first time O'Malley sought to prosecute a police officer.

A spokeswoman for O'Malley's office said because an investigation is ongoing into Gonzalez's death she will not comment.

Joshi said while his department waits for a decision by prosecutors, city officials will work toward completing its own investigation and "take appropriate action."

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