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Officials ask for patience as calls for answers in police custody death intensify

Mario Gonzalez, 26, of Oakland, California, suffered a medical emergency and died after a physical altercation with Alameda police, authorities said.

A California police department is calling for patience as it faces pressure from the public to release body-camera footage of an altercation that ended in a man's death.

Alameda police shared a series of tweets Saturday saying it is "committed to full transparency and accountability" but needs to protect the integrity of the investigations into the death of Mario Gonzalez.

"This was a terrible loss of life and we understand and share the public’s need for more information. The Alameda Police Department is committed to full transparency and accountability, releasing the body-worn camera video, and getting answers to the public," the department said.

"Because outside agencies are handling this investigation, all involved parties will be interviewed before the video is made public to ensure the integrity of the investigations. We understand the community’s frustration and are doing everything possible to provide this information to the family first and then the public as quickly as possible."

The body-camera footage has been turned over to the sheriff's office and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

The sheriff's office will be conducting the primary investigation into the death, and the district attorney was contacted about conducting a "separate, parallel investigation," police said.

"We anticipate releasing the video after the interviews are completed which is anticipated to be by the end of next week," police said Tuesday.

City officials announced this week that former San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne was hired to conduct an independent investigation into the death.

Police were called to the 800 block of Oak Street around 10:45 a.m. Monday after they got "two separate reports of a male who appeared to be under the influence and a suspect in a possible theft," police said in a statement that day.

While officers attempted to detain Gonzalez, there was a "physical altercation."

"At that time, the man had a medical emergency," police said in its initial statement. Gonzalez, 26, of Oakland, died at a nearby hospital.

The department said it was not clear what led up to the medical emergency. The cause of death is not known and an autopsy is pending.

Officers did not use any weapons during the incident, Tuesday's statement said.

Three officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard procedure. They have not been identified.

At least one relative disputed the police department's account during a vigil for Gonzalez on Wednesday night, according to San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX.

“No medical problems, 26-year-old man, healthy man," Jerry Gonzalez said. "How the hell do you die?”

“We know there was no scuffle because Mario was not a violent person,” he added.

Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft attended the vigil, too.

“I’m just heartsick," she said, according to KPIX. "This is a young man. This shouldn't have happened."