Newly released police bodycam footage shows Dallas police officers joking over the prone body of a man who lost consciousness in their custody. That man would be pronounced dead soon afterward.
What did the video show?
The Dallas Morning News reported that 32-year-old Tony Timpa had called the police the evening of Aug. 10, 2016. He had told them that he was schizophrenic and off his medication.
It’s not entirely clear what happened next, but when the bodycam footage starts, officers can be seen telling Timpa to get on the ground. He responds by calling for help and screaming, “You’re gonna kill me” to the officers.
At some point, officers pinned Timpa to the ground. He continued to call for help as they zip-tied his legs. Then he went quiet.
“He’s out cold,” one officer observes.
“What the f***?” a second officer says.
The officers agree that Timpa is asleep. Then they begin making fun of him.
“Tony!” an officer said, whistling. “Tony, time for school!”
“I don’t want to go to school!” another officer said, pretending to be Timpa. “Five more minutes, mom!”
The mockery continued.
“First day, you can’t be late!”
“We bought you new shoes for the first day of school.”
“We made breakfast! Scrambled eggs, your favorite.”
“Fruity tutti fruity waffles.”
But Timpa was not asleep. He had stopped breathing.
It was only after EMS arrived and the officers hoisted Timpa onto a stretcher that they realized that something might be wrong.
“He didn’t just die down there, did he?” one officer can be heard saying.
“I don’t think he did,” another said, holding his hand up to TImpa’s head.
“Is he breathing?” an officer asks, before adding, “Hope I didn’t kill him.”
In December 2017, the Dallas Police Department released a statement saying that Timpa had been arrested “due to his erratic behavior.” The statement added, “During the arrest, he was combative and aggressive. While taking Mr. Timpa into custody, he was subjected to physical restraint and was later pronounced deceased.”
His official cause of death was “sudden cardiac arrest, secondarily caused by the toxic effects of cocaine and stress associated with physical restraint.”
Three officers were indicted following this altercation, but the charges were later dismissed.
How did we get to see this video?
Despite the protests of the Dallas Police Department, a federal judge ruled earlier this week that “the public has a compelling interest in understanding what truly took place during a fatal exchange between a citizen and law enforcement.”
As a result of this ruling, the Timpa’s family’s legal team was given access to the bodycam footage.
An attorney for the family then released the footage to CNN and other news outlets.