LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The family of a Burbank man who was restrained by CHP officers and subsequently died after refusing to have his blood drawn following a traffic stop in 2020 will receive a record $24 million civil rights settlement from the state of California, attorneys said today.
The settlement payable to the children and parents of Edward Bronstein is the largest civil rights settlement of its kind by the state of California, and the second largest nationally since Minneapolis paid $27 million in the case of George Floyd, who also died in custody three years ago, said Annee Della Donna, an attorney for Bronstein's family. Bronstein family members and their attorneys will discuss the settlement Wednesday morning in front of Los Angeles federal court downtown. Seven California Highway Patrol officers and a nurse were charged with involuntary manslaughter earlier this year in connection with the March 31, 2020, death of the 38-year-old Bronstein, who can be heard on video repeatedly screaming, ``I can't breathe!'' while outside a CHP station in Altadena.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said the officers had a legal duty to Bronstein. ``He was in their custody,'' Gascón said when charges were announced in March. ``We believe that they failed their duty and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death.'' The district attorney said Bronstein initially declined to have his blood drawn following the freeway stop in Burbank on suspicion of driving under the influence and that an 18-minute video recorded by a CHP sergeant shows an officer warning him that if he didn't comply, he would be going ``face down on the mat and we're going to keep going.''
Gascón said the video shows several officers restraining Bronstein, who is handcuffed and face down on a mat. ``What ensued is difficult to watch and hear as Mr. Bronstein pleads for his life,'' the prosecutor said. ``A group of officers holds him down and presses their knees on his legs and neck as he repeatedly promises them that he will comply. One officer responds, `It's too late.' Mr. Bronstein screams, `I can't breathe!' over and over and pleads for help while officers continue to restrain him and even demanding that he stop yelling.''
Bronstein became ``unresponsive'' and officers held him down as a medical professional drew a vial of blood from him, and a second vial of blood was collected as he was ``laying so lifelessly that the officers no longer need to hold him down because he's dying as they're watching,'' the district attorney said. In a statement released after the case was filed, CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee said, ``On behalf of the entire California Highway Patrol, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Edward Bronstein. 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 utmost seriousness. I recognize this case will now move through the court system, and I respect the judicial process.'' The officers, who were put on administrative leave in March, face one count each of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of assault under the color of authority. If convicted, they could get up to four years in prison. The registered nurse was also charged with involuntary manslaughter.