(CNN) — Seven California Highway Patrol officers and a registered nurse were charged for the 2020 death of a man who was being restrained on the ground and repeatedly said he could not breathe, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced in a news conference.
Edward Bronstein, 38, was killed in police custody in March 2020 after officers pulled him over in Los Angeles County after suspecting he was driving under the influence.
Officers obtained a warrant to get a blood sample from Bronstein, who initially resisted but then agreed as officers restrained him while he was on the ground. Bronstein became unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.
Seven CHP officers were charged Wednesday with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of assault by an officer, while the nurse who took a sample of Bronstein’s blood was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, according to the complaint.
CNN has reached out for comment to attorneys representing the defendants in a federal lawsuit against them regarding Bronstein’s death. CNN is working to identify attorneys representing them in the criminal case and has also reached out to CHP for comment.
In body camera video released last year as part of a federal lawsuit against CHP and those allegedly involved, Bronstein is heard repeatedly telling officers, “I can’t breathe,” while pinned on the ground.
Those same three words were echoed by George Floyd less than two months later before he was killed when he was restrained by Minneapolis police in May 2020.
Floyd’s murder sparked national and global protests against police brutality and racial injustices, spurring a national reckoning over the way law enforcement treats Black Americans. The officer who killed Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murder in April 2021.
“These officers had a legal duty to Mr. Bronstein,” Gascón said. “He was in custody. We believe that they failed their duty and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death.” He added that “police accountability is essential to public safety.”
Bronstein’s father, Edward Tapia, said Wednesday he is “glad we came to this point where they can prosecute so they can’t hurt nobody else.”
“I don’t know what to say. What happened is something I can’t bear with yet,” he said.
Bronstein’s family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the state of California, CHP and individual officers who were on scene when Bronstein was killed
The lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California, alleged officers used “excessive and objectively unreasonable” force against Bronstein, who was “unarmed, restrained, and surrounded by uniformed peace officers.” That excessive force “was also a result of the negligent employment, negligent retention, and negligent supervision” of the officers by the CHP, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit sought unspecified compensatory damages and requested a jury trial.
The eight people charged Wednesday will be arraigned later, the district attorney’s office said in a release. The case remains under investigation by CHP, the office said.
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