A video has gone viral of Sgt. James Brown’s last hours in a Texas jail before his sudden death in July 2012.
Brown was an active-duty solider, who served two tours in Iraq, when he was called to report to serve a two-day DWI sentence at the El Paso County Jail in Texas.
In the newly released video, blood can be seen on Brown’s cell door and inside of his cell. When an officer comes over to talk to him, he does not respond. A group of officers in riot gear then barge into his cell and Brown is seen taking off his shirt. As he barely gets his shirt off, the officers take him down to the ground collectively. While on the ground, showing no resistance, Brown repeatedly tells the officers that he cannot breathe. At one point in the video Brown says, “I’m choking on my blood.”
Officers eventually carry Brown on their shoulders to the infirmary where the guards put a “spit mask” on his face and injected him with two shots of lorazepam, which is a sedative.
While there, Brown states at least 20 times that he cannot breathe to the surrounding officers. Brown then begs for some water, and is given the equivalent of one full Dixie cup. The officers then wash Brown’s face off, which contained pepper spray.
At the end of the video, Brown is lying on the ground half-naked in a cell, not responding and breathing very slowly. Soon after, he is declared dead.
Brown was only in custody for one day, when he called his mother to pay the fine, so he could be immediately freed from jail. His mother paid the fine before morning, but by then it was too late.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office released a statement to CNN, saying Brown died of natural causes and citing “sickle-cell crisis” as a factor. But, the family still believes the police had something to do with Brown’s death. Brown suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which he allegedly mentioned to officers at his intake.
Brown’s family has filed a lawsuit against El Paso County for unspecified damages.