Seven California Highway Patrol officers and a registered nurse are being charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of an alleged DUI driver in Altadena nearly three years ago, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Officers Dionisio Fiorella, 39, Michael Little, 57, Dustin Osmanson, 41, Darren Parsons, 48, Diego Romero, 35, Justin Silva, 30, and Marciel Terry, 32, as well as RN Arbi Baghalian, 42, were also charged with one count of assault in the death of Edward Bronstein.
On March 31, 2020, Osmanson and Terry pulled over Bronstein along the 5 Freeway in Burbank on suspicion of driving under the influence, prosecutors said.
The officers took Bronstein, 38, to a CHP maintenance yard in Altadena and obtained a warrant to draw his blood.
Bronstein at first refused to get his blood drawn, but eventually agreed to comply as officers “pushed him to the ground,” the DA’s Office alleges. Six officers then allegedly forced a handcuffed Bronstein and pinned him down as Baghalian drew his blood.
“While pinned down, Bronstein repeatedly told officers he could not breathe,” the DA’s Office stated in a news release. “As the blood draw continued, Bronstein became unresponsive. He was kept facedown for approximately six more minutes.”
The DA’s Office alleges that officers waited 10 minutes after Bronstein became unresponsive to begin CPR. He never regained consciousness and was later pronounced dead, officials said.
Bronstein had meth, marijuana and alcohol in his system, and his cause of death was listed as “acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement,” according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office. Luis Carrillo, an attorney for Bronstein’s family, said his death was caused by suffocation while being held down.
The incident was caught on video, which was released nearly two years after Bronstein’s death.
“The state of California did not want us to release this video,” Carrillo said at the time. “Thank God that the judge agreed with us and that’s why you’re going to have this video. It’s horrible, but justice must be done.”
Bronstein’s daughter, Brianna Palomino, described her father as a “good person” who did not deserve to die the way he did. “He was treated like trash, like his life was not deserving,” Palomino said when the video was released.
“For the system to work, people must be able to trust law enforcement. Police accountability is critical to building that trust, and it is necessary for public safety,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “I promise Mr. Bronstein’s family and our community that I will continue to advocate for stronger accountability in use-of-force cases and an independent review of deaths that occur while in law enforcement custody.”
In a statement from CHP, Commissioner Sean Duryee extended his deepest condolences to Bronstein’s family. Read the full statement below:
Our agency’s top priority is protecting the safety and well-being of all Californians, and I am saddened that Mr. Bronstein died while in our custody and care. Any death in custody is a tragedy that we take with upmost seriousness. I recognize this case will now move through the court system, and I respect the judicial process … The CHP is committed to providing the highest level of safety and service to all Californians, and building trust with our communities. Following this incident, CHP leadership updated agency policies to prevent officers from using techniques or transport methods that involve a substantial risk of positional asphyxia.
The CHP has also conducted training for all uniformed employees to help them recognize individuals experiencing medical distress. The CHP is exploring alternatives to administering mandated chemical tests when people arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence refuse to submit to testing, as required by law.CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee
The defendants have not been arrested, but will be allowed to surrender, a spokesperson for the DA’s Office told KTLA. Arraignment dates have not been set, and the incident remains under investigation by the CHP.