6 CHP officers, sergeant make first court appearance in death of man arrested for DUI in 2020

Each faces a maximum sentence of four years.

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Thursday, April 6, 2023
6 CHP officers, sergeant make first court appearance in man's death
Six CHP patrol officers and one sergeant made their first court appearance Wednesday on charges stemming from the death of a Burbank man who died in their custody.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Six California Highway Patrol officers and one sergeant were allowed to remain free on their own recognizance at their first court appearance on Wednesday on charges stemming from the death of a Burbank man who was restrained after refusing to have his blood drawn following a traffic stop on the 5 Freeway.

Superior Court Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian ordered Sgt. Michael Little, 57; Dionisio Fiorella, 39; Dustin Osmanson, 41; Darren Parsons, 48; Diego Romero, 35; Justin Silva, 30; and Marciel Terry, 32, to return to the downtown Los Angeles courtroom May 15 for arraignment on one count each of involuntary manslaughter and 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'

Attorneys for a man who died after being pulled over by the California Highway Patrol nearly two years ago are accusing officers of using excessive force following his arrest.

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," L.A. District Attorney George Gascón previously said. "He was in their custody. We believe that they failed their duty and their failure was criminally negligent, causing his death."

During a recent press conference, Gascón showed video of the incident, warning that the footage was "extremely graphic."

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

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced 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.

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.

Last week, 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.