Suburban police killings are more common yet face less scrutiny in Bay Area


Cassandra Quinto-Collins arranged the items carefully: Rosary beads. A large set of headphones. And in the center, the blue cloisonné urn with her son’s ashes.

“I think it’s good,” she said to Deacon Gustavo Escrucería and Marvin Engelhard, the family service adviser at Holy Cross Cemetery in Antioch.

Then Quinto-Collins sobbed, shoulders heaving as the room fell silent.

Seven months had passed since 30-year-old Angelo Quinto died on Dec. 26, following a mental health break that led police to restrain him on the floor of his mother’s bedroom. Quinto-Collins said her son pleaded for his life while officers pinned him down for five minutes, with one holding his legs and another placing a knee on his neck.

His case prompted national outrage and accelerated police reforms in Antioch, including the adoption of dashboard and body-worn cameras, along with plans for an independent police commission. Yet it took a long time — and a high-profile death that police did not acknowledge for weeks — to set these modest policies in motion.

Historically, the political and social response to police violence has been muted in Bay Area suburbs, where use-of-force is subject to less oversight than in cities. The reasons are complicated, but the reality is unsettling: more deaths in areas with fewer mechanisms to bring justice to families, transparency to the public or robust investigations of the officers involved.

Photos of Angelo Quinto at his home in Antioch.

Photos of Angelo Quinto at his home in Antioch.

Gabrielle Lurie/The Chronicle

Data compiled from local law enforcement agencies, the Fatal Encounters tracking project and Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings provides a geographical snapshot of law enforcement violence in the Bay Area this year. It showed 10 fatal shootings and two other deadly encounters. Of those, two occurred in San Jose, a major metropolitan city. The rest took place in the suburbs.

Fremont and San Jose topped the list, each with two lethal incidents, followed by Antioch, Alameda, Hayward, Daly City, Pittsburg, Danville and Vacaville.

While most Bay Area residents live in suburbs, police in urban centers deal with more people on a day-to-day basis. But big departments generally have the tools — and the will — to intercede when a confrontation goes awry, said Professor Jack Glaser of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. He noted that larger, metropolitan agencies may face protests and political fallout if an incident ends in death.

“They’re probably going to have more investment in the kind of training and policies that they need to prevent these things from happening,” Glaser said.

Sgt. Steven Pomatto and Sgt. John Crudo (left) of the San Francisco Police Department demonstrate how they teach use-of-force using hands-on techniques as well as the VirTra simulator to introduce scenarios.

Sgt. Steven Pomatto and Sgt. John Crudo (left) of the San Francisco Police Department demonstrate how they teach use-of-force using hands-on techniques as well as the VirTra simulator to introduce scenarios.

Gabrielle Lurie/The Chronicle

Civil rights attorney John Burris said he’s noticed that police in cities like San Francisco and Oakland try to refrain from using excessive force — a byproduct of police commissions, civilian review boards and, in Oakland, 18 years of federal court oversight.





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