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7 CHP officers and a nurse are charged in a 2020 traffic stop death

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Prosecutors in LA County have charged seven California Highway patrol officers and a nurse with involuntary manslaughter after a man died in custody following a traffic stop. NPR correspondent Sergio Olmos has been following this. And a warning - his report contains police audio that listeners may find disturbing.

SERGIO OLMOS, BYLINE: In the early morning hours of March 31, 2020, Edward Bronstein was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol on suspicion of driving under the influence. Officers took Bronstein to the agency's parking lot and obtained a warrant for a blood test, but Bronstein initially refused. A 16-minute video shot by a California Highway Patrol sergeant shows six officers pinning down Bronstein while a registered nurse tries to draw his blood. Bronstein is heard here pleading with the officers, saying he can't breathe. What you're about to hear may be disturbing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EDWARD BRONSTEIN: Let me breathe. Let me breathe. Let me breathe. Please.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #1: Stop moving.

BRONSTEIN: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #2: The more you move, the worse it's going to be, bro.

OLMOS: In this video, Bronstein then becomes unresponsive. Officers and a nurse are hunched over his body for several minutes asking him to wake up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED NURSE: Edward. Edward.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #3: Wake him up.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #4: Hey, wake up.

OLMOS: Brianna Palomino says her father's death was unjustified.

BRIANNA PALOMINO: He is afraid of needles. So, of course, he was a little hesitant at first. He was screaming that he couldn't breathe and that he would do it willingly. They didn't care.

OLMOS: Palomino believes her father's death would have been swept under the rug if it wasn't for legal pressure.

PALOMINO: Nobody would say anything. Nobody wanted to answer any questions. They don't show their face. They don't speak to anybody.

OLMOS: The seven officers have yet to be arraigned and have not entered a plea. In a statement, the California Highway Patrol expressed condolences to the family and said the seven officers have been placed on administrative leave as this case moves through the court system. Sergio Olmos, NPR News, Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sergio Olmos