Oklahoma Man's Dying Words In Cop Custody: 'I Can't Breathe'

Jun 10, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City police have released body-camera videos of an armed black man who died in police custody last year after telling arresting officers ‘I can’t breathe.’

 

The footage of the May 2019 arrest released late Monday was eerily similar to video showing George Floyd’s death last month in Minneapolis police custody, which has ignited protests and scattered violence in cities across the U.S. Floyd, a black man who was unarmed and handcuffed, pleaded for air as a white officer pressed a knee on his neck.

 

The Oklahoma videos were released following a demand from the Oklahoma City Black Lives Matter group and requests from several media outlets, said Oklahoma City Police Capt. Larry Withrow.

In the videos, 42-year-old Derrick Elliot Scott, also known as Derrick Ollie, can be heard moaning and telling officers he couldn’t breathe as at least one officer straddled him in an attempt to place him in handcuffs. After he’s handcuffed, Scott appears to go in and out of consciousness. Paramedics are called, and Scott is placed on a gurney and transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

 

Before the videos were released publicly, they were shown to Scott’s family.

 

“It was very troubling to watch,” said Scott’s son, Derrick Ollie. “They stood by and did nothing and acted as if he was OK, when he told them plenty of times that he couldn’t breathe. They’re laughing and joking like something is funny, when this man was struggling for his life.”

 

Scott, who was armed with a handgun, matched the description of a suspect who had brandished a firearm, according to police. As police officers approached him, the video shows Scott ran away before one officer tackled him. The officers then struggled to handcuff as Scott complained he couldn’t breathe.

 

An autopsy report listed the probable cause of death as a collapsed lung and noted several conditions that likely contributed to his death, including physical restraint, recent methamphetamine use, asthma, emphysema and heart disease.

 

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater cleared all of the officers involved last year after receiving a copy of the autopsy report.

 

“This guy runs from the police. He’s got a 90% occluded major artery in his heart,” Prater told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “I mean, he’s just a perfect candidate to die when you’ve got meth in your system and those kinds of physical ailments and then you fight with police. They (officers) didn’t do anything wrong at all.”