Recently unsealed video shows California man screaming ‘I can’t breathe’ before dying in police custody after 2020 traffic stop

Bronstein is heard repeatedly telling officers, "I can't breathe," while pinned on the ground.
(Photo: Tony Webster / CC BY 2.0)

CALIFORNIA (CNN) — A federal judge has unsealed a video taken by the California Highway Patrol that captures the death of Edward Bronstein, a 38-year-old man who was in their custody following a March 2020 traffic stop in Los Angeles County.

Bronstein is heard repeatedly telling officers, “I can’t breathe,” while pinned on the ground.
Those three words would tug at the world’s conscience less than two months later when repeated by George Floyd before his death while being restrained by Minneapolis police.
Floyd’s killing in May 2020 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.
The CHP video was released for use in a federal wrongful death lawsuit brought by Bronstein’s family against the state of California, CHP and individual officers who were on scene when Bronstein died.
No officers have been charged in connection with Bronstein’s death.
The decision to unseal the video Tuesday was made because “the public’s interest in the conduct of its peace officers outweighs other interests and any risk of particularized harm,” US Magistrate Judge John McDermott explained in his order.
The lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California, alleges 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, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages and requests a jury trial.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office tells CNN it is reviewing the case, and CHP declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office did not reply to CNN’s request for comment.
Luis Carillo, an attorney representing Bronstein’s family, told CNN in a statement the officers who restrained him had no “reverence for human life.”
“EVEN after he said he would ‘willingly’ obey the officers STILL BRUTALIZED HIM ANYWAY,” Carillo said. “NOBODY should die this way. The family will always suffer the loss of love of Edward.”
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