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California to pay $24 million for man dying in Altadena during CHP stop

The state of California has agreed to pay $24 million to settle a lawsuit concerning a man who died in the California Highway Patrol’s custody in an Altadena parking lot after a DUI stop, his family’s lawyer said, just months before the death of George Floyd ignited national anguish and protests.

The motorist also said, “I can’t breathe!” while being subdued by officers.

The settlement, filed on March 13 in federal court but not publicly surfacing until Tuesday, May 9, is the second largest civil rights settlement of its kind in the country, only trailing the $27 million settlement given to the Floyd family, said Eric Dubin, one of the motorist family’s lawyers.

“After George Floyd happened, ‘I can’t breathe’ became the declaration of the civil rights movement,” Dubin said. “We know he sparked a movement, and I’m sure that’s a big part of us getting justice for our clients.”

The settlement accord does not spell out the amount, but Dubin provided it.

CHP sergeant, 6 officers and a nurse charged in 2020 death of man in Altadena

On March 31, 2020, 38-year-old Edward Bronstein, who was White, was stopped by CHP officers who suspected he was intoxicated on the 5 Freeway in Burbank.

After Bronstein blew into Breathalyzer under the legal limit, the officers took him to a nearby CHP parking lot in Altadena and obtained a warrant to draw his blood.

Bronstein initially refused to have his blood drawn, but complied as officers began to push him to the ground in a face-down position, which can compress airflow in the neck.

Bronstein was held in that prone position by six CHP officers for more than eight minutes, the lawsuit says, even as he shouted, “I can’t breathe!” 14 times before dying. All six officers, in addition to a nurse on scene, did not attempt CPR after he became unresponsive, the Bronstein lawyers said.

After his death, a disturbing 18-minute video of Bronstein’s arrest and death was made public.

In March, the officers, their supervisor, and the nurse were charged with involuntary manslaughter by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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