Lawsuit: Texas officers ignored pleas of man before death

U.S. & World News

TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) — The mother of a man who died two years ago after his arrest following a foot chase has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three Texas police officers, alleging they were “deliberately indifferent” as her son complained that he couldn’t breathe.

Keisha Boykin filed the lawsuit Sunday in U.S. district court in Texarkana, Texas, against three local officers on behalf of her son, Darren Boykin, who died on Aug. 29, 2019.

According to the lawsuit, officers Jerrika Weaver and Brent Hobbs, and their supervisor during the arrest, Sgt. William Scott, knew that Boykin was unable breathe and had asked for help, but they “deliberately chose not to provide medical care.” It says they had the duty and ability to call for medical assistance, but did not, and that Boykin died because of their “deliberate indifference.”

A police department spokesman, Shawn Vaughn, said the department couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Texarkana College police, who initially confronted Boykin, sent a custodial death report to the Texas attorney general saying the coroner determined that Boykin died of natural causes linked to complications of sickle cell trait.

According to the lawsuit, Boykin fled on foot after being confronted by Texarkana College police officers, who suspected him of theft. After running for about half a mile in the heat, he was detained and city police officers arrived.

At that point, Boykin was having trouble breathing as he lay handcuffed on the ground, and officers carried him to the patrol car, the lawsuit contends. According to body camera footage provided to the Texarkana Gazette, a search of his pockets revealed an Ohio driver’s license, and officers determined he had a felony warrant for theft in that state.

The lawsuit states that Boykin repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, that his breathing was labored and that he said he was going to pass out before he fell unconscious in the back of the patrol car as Weaver drove him to jail.

According to the lawsuit, at one point, Weaver told Boykin, “You can’t call I can’t breathe after you ran forever and then you have felonies.”

At one point during the drive to jail, Boykin told Weaver: “Ma’am, I’m about to pass out.” Weaver tells him to “just lean against the glass,” the lawsuit says. He also told her, ”I can’t even talk.”

Eventually, Boykin leaned over and no longer responded to Weaver, the lawsuit states. He was unconscious when they arrived at the jail, and she pulled him from the car and began CPR.

He was then taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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