(CNN) — The family of Mario Gonzalez Arenales, a Northern California man who died after he was restrained by police officers in April, has filed a wrongful death claim against the city of Alameda alleging the officers detained Gonzalez without reasonable suspicion and caused him to die of asphyxia.
On April 19, Alameda Police Department officers responded to reports of a man who appeared to be under the influence and about a suspect in a possible theft, the police department said in a news release. Three officers restrained 26-year-old Gonzalez, placing him on his stomach on the ground for about five minutes before he became unresponsive, body camera footage released by the department shows. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The claim, filed on May 20, says Gonzalez “appeared to be confused and possibly intoxicated at the time,” but “was not a threat to himself or anyone else.”
“Mr. Gonzalez was not engaged in any crime and was not a danger to himself or others,” the claim adds.
The claim states the officers put “significant weight on his back, shoulders, neck, and legs for over five minutes in violation of generally accepted law enforcement standards, while Mr. Gonzalez struggled to breathe.”
Gonzalez died from the officers’ use of “excessive force, improper restraint, mechanical asphyxia, and positional, restraint, and compression asphyxia,” the claim says.
The cause of Gonzalez’s death has not been determined. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, which is conducting an autopsy, did not immediately return a request for comment.
The three officers who are named in the claim — James Fisher, Cameron Leahy and Eric McKinley — are on paid administrative leave, according to city spokesperson Sarah Henry.
“There are three investigations taking place regarding the death of Mario Gonzalez, two by outside agencies (the District Attorney and the Sheriff) and one independent investigation initiated by the city,” Henry said in response to the claim.
Henry was not able to provide any further details at this time. The city has 45 days to respond to the claim before the attorneys can file a lawsuit.
“We know this case is very strong, because the Alameda officers used clearly improper and excessive force to asphyxiate Mario Gonzalez, who was passive and harmless at all times. Mario’s four-year-old son, little Mario, misses his Papi very much,” attorney Michael Haddad said in a statement to CNN.
CNN has reached out to the Alameda Police Officers Association for comment.
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