Video shows Dallas police mocking man killed as they pinned him down — (The Guardian)

SSRI Ed note: Officers suffocate man in withdrawal who called them for help while he begs for his life. Nobody charged, no job loss.

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The Guardian

Edward Helmore in New York

Fri 2 Aug 2019 22.49 BST  Last modified on Fri 2 Aug 2019 23.30 BST

Tony Timpa died in police custody after calling 911 for help

Bodycam video finally released after three-year legal battle

The film forms part of a lawsuit filed by Timpa’s family that claims police used excessive force.

Video of Dallas police pinning a man to the ground for more than 13 minutes until he loses consciousness and dies has been made public after a years-long legal battle.

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Tony Timpa, 32, died in August 2016 as he was restrained by three police officers in a Dallas parking lot. Timpa had called 911 to say he had come off his medication for schizophrenia and depression and needed help.

In the bodycam video, finally obtained by the Dallas Morning News, Timpa, who had been handcuffed by store security guards, is pinned to the ground in a prone position with a knee on his back as he pleads with police to release him.

“You’re going to kill me!” Timpa shouts repeatedly.

The three officers laugh and joke as they restrain Timpa on the ground. One officer mocks Timpa as a “roly-poly”. As he becomes unresponsive, with his face in the grass, the officers joke that he has fallen asleep. When Timpa finally stops moving, the trio continue their mockery.

“Back to school! Come on, wake up!” one officer says.

Another, mimicking a teenager, says: “I don’t want to go to school! Five more minutes, Mom!”

Only after an ambulance arrives do officers show concern. “I hope I didn’t kill him,” one says.

In the ambulance, a paramedic tells the officers Timpa is not breathing. Another paramedic points at Timpa and says: “He’s dead.”

The film forms part of a lawsuit filed by Timpa’s family that claims police used excessive force.

“The footage graphically depicts the needless death of an unarmed young man,” the family’s lawyer, Geoff Henley, told the New York Times on Thursday. “What is worse, some of the officers seemed more interested in sophomoric gallows humor than ensuring that they were keeping Tony alive.”

For three years following a Dallas Morning News investigation, city and state authorities resisted its release.

Initially, they argued first that the video’s publication would interfere with an open criminal case that charged the officers with “engaging in reckless conduct that placed Timpa in imminent danger of serious bodily injury”. Later, officials cited the case’s dismissal.

In March, the charges were dismissed because Dallas county district attorney John Creuzot, after consulting three medical examiners, concluded it was unlikely prosecutors could secure a conviction. The officers were disciplined, and returned to active duty a month later.

Timpa’s death was classified by an autopsy as a homicide, his death caused by sudden cardiac death due to “the toxic effects of cocaine and the stress associated with physical restraint”.