Charges filed against 7 CHP officers, nurse in death of man arrested for DUI in 2020, DA says

ByJosh Haskell KABC logo
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Gascón files charges against 7 CHP officers, nurse in man's 2020 death
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Prosecutors charged seven CHP officers and a nurse with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2020 death of a man who screamed "I can't breathe" while multiple officers restrained him as they tried to take a blood sample.

LOS ANGELES -- Criminal charges are being filed against seven CHP officers and a nurse in the death of a 38-year-old man who died after he was pulled over for driving under the influence in 2020.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the charges Wednesday.

One CHP sergeant and six patrol officers are facing one count of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of assault under the color of authority. Each faces a maximum sentence of four years.

A registered nurse was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter.

Video details 2020 arrest of man who died in CHP custody: 'I can't breathe'

Edward Bronstein, a 38-year-old Burbank man, was pulled over on March 31, 2020 on the 5 Freeway on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was brought to the CHP station in Altadena, where he reportedly resisted submitting to a blood test.

Officers allegedly used force to get him to comply. During the extended struggle he repeatedly said "I can't breathe" and no officers helped him, according to an attorney for Bronstein's family. The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the CHP.

"The officers had a legal duty to Mr. Bronstein," Gascón said. "He was in their custody. We believe that they failed their duty and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death."

During his press conference, Gascón showed video of the incident, warning that the footage "is extremely graphic" and suggested some people may wish to leave the room.

WATCH: Gascón announces charges against CHP officers, nurse in death of man arrested for DUI in 2020

An arraignment date has not yet been set for Sgt. Michael Little, 57; Dionisio Fiorella, 39; Dustin Osmanson, 41; Darren Parsons, 48; Diego Romero, 35; Justin Silva, 30; and Marciel Terry, 32. Nurse, Arbi Baghalian, 42, was also charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter.

The district attorney noted that 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.''

"The video shows several officers restraining Mr. Bronstein who is handcuffed and face down on the mat ...," Gascón said. "What ensued is difficult to watch and hear as Mr. Bronstein pleads for his life. 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 was "unresponsive" and officers held him down as a medical professional draws 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.

"When they turn him over six minutes after his last scream, he is completely lifeless," Gascón said. "More than 13 minutes after Mr. Bronstein last screamed, they began CPR but are unsuccessful."

According to Bronstein's autopsy, he died from "acute methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement." The manner of death is listed as undetermined.

Eyewitness News tried to ask Gascón about the role methamphetamine played in Bronstein's death, but the DA did not take questions.

In a statement, 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 sergeant and officers have been placed on administrative leave as a result of the charges, according to the CHP.

City News Service contributed to this report.