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Man Tells Jail Guards He ‘Can’t Breathe’ As He’s Restrained Before Dying (VIDEO)


[Warning: Footage is disturbing.]

Newly released footage shows the moments purportedly leading to the death of John Neville, 56, in a North Carolina jail. Video depicted him in restraints and with a cover over his head as he told guards in the Forsyth County facility that he could not breathe.

Sheriff Bobby F. Kimbrough, Jr. apologized for the death Tuesday in a press conference attended by Neville’s son Sean and an attorney for the family, according to The New York Times.

Kimbrough suggested naming a part of the jail–a housing unit–after Neville.

“We’re doing it as a reminder to let them know that life is paramount in how we do business,” he said.

Neville was at the jail in Winston-Salem last December on a charge of assaulting a woman. He was booked on the 1st. The district attorney said he suffered a medical emergency about a day later. Officials said they put the cover–a mask–on him because he had tried to bite them.

Video showed Neville retained in a wheelchair with a white, somewhat transparent cover over his head. A guard told him he was having a medical issue.

“We’re helping you, okay?” said the guard.

A woman who seemed to be a nurse examined Neville. The inmate was then placed onto a cot in a cell, but that was when things escalated. Multiple guards restrain Neville as he cries out “I can’t breathe.”

“John, you need to stop so I can get these off,” said the guard. “You can breathe because you’re talking.”

The autopsy report previously said that Neville fell off his bunk and appeared to have a seizure, according to WXII-TV. Investigators described him as being “incoherent,” apparently “confused,” and both “uncooperative” and “aggressive.” He was put face-down onto a mattress while his hands were cuffed behind his back and his legs were put in restraints. Officials restrained Neville by the shoulders, arms, and legs, but not by the neck or back. There was never a chokehold.

In the timeline of events, the handcuff key broke two and a half minutes after Neville was put prone, and he eventually stopped moving about five minutes after being prone. The handcuffs were taken off about 12 minutes after he was prone. CPR was initiated 19 minutes after he was prone.

Neville died at a hospital two days later on December 4. The cause of death was determined to be a brain injury from cardiac arrest resulting from “complications of positional and compressional asphyxia during prone restraint.”

Five detention officers were fired over the incident. They, and a nurse employed by a private contractor, were charged with involuntary manslaughter in July.

[Image via WXII 12 News]

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