Photo: Getty
  /  08.02.2020

Back in February, a Black man died shortly after several officers stood on top of him as he said, “I can’t breathe.” Now, the body cam footage has been released. 

Prior to the arrest, Arkansas police received a call that a couple was shoplifting at the Harp’s store in Conway. Two shoppers had allegedly taken a drone out of its packaging while at the shopping center. The footage showcased cops approaching Lionel Morris and his girlfriend Brandi Arnold. 

Arnold allowed cops to place her in handcuffs, however, Morris ran after officers attempted to do the same. Authorities chased the 39-year-old man through the store and pinned him to the ground. At the time, Morris was reportedly “refusing arrest” and “being combative.”

“I’ll break your f—–g wrist,” an officer said at one point. After three officers stood on top of Morris and placed their foot on the latter’s back, leg and buttocks, he called out for help. The footage shows Morris asking for an ambulance and saying, “I can’t breathe.”

By the time medical services arrived at the scene, Morris was unresponsive. After arriving at the hospital, he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner ruled that he died of a result of a combination of methamphetamine intoxication with exertion, struggle, and conducted electrical weapon deployment.

Conway Police Chief William Tapley claimed that “the level of drugs Mr. Morris had in his system and the strain he exerted while struggling with police” played a role in his death. He also argued that the officers involved shouldn’t face criminal charges. 

Unlike Tapley, Mayor Bart Castleberry of Conway said that the cops’ actions were “concerning.” He also added that a committee of Black leaders will review the protocols and training practices of the city’s police department. 

The body cam footage regarding the incident can be found below.


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