Newly released video has revealed the dying moments of an African-American active-duty soldier who checked himself into the El Paso, Texas, county jail for a two-day sentence for driving under the influence, and died while in custody in 2012. Authorities claimed Sgt. James Brown died due to a pre-existing medical condition, but shocking new video from inside the jail raises new questions about what happened. The video shows guards swarming on top of him as he repeatedly says he can’t breathe and appears not to resist. By the end of the video, he is shown naked, not blinking or responding, his breathing shallow. Attorneys say an ambulance was never called. Brown was eventually brought to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His family had long suspected foul play in his death but received little information from authorities. They’ve now filed a lawsuit against El Paso County saying his constitutional rights were violated. We are joined by Brown’s mother, Dinetta Scott.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today with a story about an Iraq War veteran who served two tours in Iraq only to die in a county jail in El Paso, Texas. Sergeant James Brown was just 26 years old when he mysteriously died in 2012 after he reported to jail for a two-day sentence for driving while intoxicated. Brown, who was African-American, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time. His family had long suspected foul play in his death but received little information from authorities, who said he died because of a pre-existing medical condition. Well, a local news station, KFOX14, recently obtained video from inside the jail showing Brown’s last moments.
AMY GOODMAN: The video shows something happened which caused Brown to bleed in his cell. When he refuses to speak with guards, a team in riot gear storms in and swarms on top of him, while he repeatedly says he can’t breathe and appears not to resist. A warning to our audience: The following video is disturbing.
SGT. JAMES BROWN: I can’t breathe! Dude, I can’t breathe! Help me! Help me! Help! I can’t breathe! I’m choking on my blood! Help me! I’m choking on my blood! I’m choking on my blood! I’m choking on my blood!