Lawsuit: Man died after guard knelt on his neck in Golden 1 Center

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — One year after a man died after he was detained for trespassing inside the Golden 1 Center, the attorney for his family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

In July of 2019, security guards at the Golden 1 Center struggled to detain Mario Matthews, who they said was trespassing.

Video shows the 39-year-old walk past a window washer and through an open arena door at 3:30 a.m.

Unarmed, Matthews made his way to the basketball court where he could be seen dancing and, according to security, acting “erratically and high.”

After three Sacramento police officers were called in for backup, video showed Matthews being forcefully restrained by the security guards and officers.

Two days later, Matthews was pronounced dead at the hospital.  

The incident was ruled as an in-custody death because it was still under investigation.

A new wrongful death lawsuit filed by attorney Stewart Katz claims Matthews died as a result of being restrained face down for 20 minutes by up to four people, with one security guard allegedly applying his knee to Matthew’s neck for more than four minutes. 

“The reason he’s dead is because of what they did. He was fine before. There was just no need to do that,” Katz told FOX40. “There’s absolutely no need for it. He was restrained, he’s handcuffed, where’s he going? He’s face down, he’s 125 pounds.”

“Nothing good happens from putting your knee on someone’s neck for minutes.”

The lawsuit comes after weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality and the in-custody death of George Floyd, who also died after being placed in a knee-to-neck restraint.

“Is this another instance of excessive force of the sort that has led to protests? It is,” said Katz.

Matthews’ parents say that enough is enough and are demanding better police training through their lawsuit. 

“They want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. No, it’s not going to bring him back but they will get answers and they’ll, hopefully, be some accountability,” said Katz.

The attorney for the city of Sacramento said he has received the lawsuit and is in the process of reviewing it. 

FOX40 is still waiting to hear back from the security company involved in the incident. 

The Sacramento Police Department said they will not comment on pending litigation. 

See the lawsuit in its entirety below:

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