Conway police release edited video after man died in police custody back in February.
— THV11 (@THV11) July 29, 2020
There’s extensive reporting here from KTHV on the death of Lionel Morris, 39, in Conway police custody, including the release of a video of the shoplifting suspect saying, “I can’t breathe,” after officers used a Taser multiple times and used other means, including physical blows, to restrain him in a Harp’s store.
The local prosecutor found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the officers. An internal investigation will continue on whether officers involved violated any department policies.
The police chief released a video of the event. It is edited. The chief said it includes “relevant” footage. It includes officers with knees or feet on Morris’ back. He was handcuffed and groans repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” When he said that to an officer with a knee on his back, the officer said, “If you can talk you can breathe.”
At one point, at least three officers have a foot on him while another officer puts her knee onto his should as he complains that he can’t breathe.
According to a report by prosecuting attorney Carol Crews, Morris was allegedly put into a “recovery position” and rolled onto his side. That is never visibly seen on the video release by the Conway Police Department.
In the police report, Morris is moved to the recovery position after he begins to vomit.
When medical personnel arrived on the scene, he was described as being “pulseless and unresponsive.”
Morris died en route to a hospital.
Police Chief William Tapley, in releasing the video, said drugs in Morris’ system and his resistance to officers contributed to his death. He didn’t mention the use of electric shocks.
Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry has asked that the officers be placed on leave while the administrative review proceeds.
Statement from Mayor Bart Castleberry pic.twitter.com/Z1mJHY07MU
— City of Conway, Arkansas (@CityofConway) July 29, 2020
UPDATE: The story is going national. Here’s an extensive report in the Washington Post.’