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Seven California Highway Patrol officers charged in death of DUI suspect

The officers face charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault by an officer in the death of a man who died as they pinned him down to take his blood.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Seven California Highway Patrol officers face charges in the death of a 38-year-old man who suffocated to death as they kneeled on him while trying to take a blood sample by force.

The seven were each charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault by an officer, according to a statement Wednesday by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. A registered nurse was also charged with involuntary manslaughter.

“For the system to work, people must be able to trust law enforcement," Gascón said in the statement. "Police accountability is critical to building that trust, and it is necessary for public safety."

Two CHP officers pulled Edward Bronstein over in the early morning hours March 31, 2020, on Interstate 5 in Burbank, California. They arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence and took him to the parking garage of a nearby nearby CHP station where they obtained a warrant to draw his blood.

According to the DA, Bronstein initially refused the blood draw, but then agreed to comply as officers pushed him to the ground.

Six of the officers stand accused of forcing the handcuffed Bronstein to the ground, facedown, and pinning him down for about six minutes as the nurse drew his blood. Bronstein, the DA said, repeatedly told officers he couldn't breathe and as the blood draw continued, he became unresponsive.

About 10 minutes after he became unresponsive, the officers attempted CPR, according to the DA. Bronstein never regained consciousness and was later pronounced dead.

Bronstein's family sued California and the officers on claims of violating his constitutional rights, negligence, and wrongful death among others. They reached a confidential settlement agreement this month which needs to be approved by state officials.

In a video of the incident that was released by court order last year, Bronstein can be seen arguing with the CHP officers as he is kneeling on a blue mat in the garage.

“You are bringing the fight to this, not us,” one of the officers tells him in the video, to which Bronstein replies: “I am not bringing the fight at all.”

The officer then tells him to voluntarily succumb to having his blood taken and warns him that otherwise “you are going facedown on the mat, and we going to keep on going.”

When the officers proceed to force him down to take the blood sample, Bronstein repeatedly shouts that he'll do it willingly.

The LA County coroner reportedly attributed Bronstein's death to acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement.

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