Recently released body camera images from a May 2017 incident provide new details about the death of Joseph Perez, a man who died after being detained by police in Fresno, California.
In his final moments, Pérez told officers, “I can’t breathe,” according to a 16-minute video of the incident posted Friday.
In the video, Pérez, 41, can be seen in anguish, lying face down on the ground as an officer repeatedly tells him to breathe.
Pérez can be heard telling officers “help me.” He later died on the way to the hospital.
When officers first saw Pérez, they said he appeared disturbed and was standing on the road.
An officer said, “Joseph, we are here to help you.”
A lawsuit filed by Perez’s family blames three entities: Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputies, Fresno Police, and American Ambulance, which the family said asked police to use a paramedic badge to restrain him, a maneuver that paramedics suggested to help secure Pérez so they could catch him. in the ambulance.
In the video, an officer can be seen sitting on Pérez. He says, “We have to … sit on that board.”
Michelle Pérez, sister of Joseph Pérez, said: “16 minutes was the amount of time I watched while my brother was being murdered.”
The police chief at the time, Andrew Hall, said an internal investigation found that excessive force was not used and blamed drugs for Perez’s death, who he said “became combative.”
“Mr. Perez was found to have a methamphetamine level that was 24 times the toxic level,” Hall said.
The coroner’s office determined that Pérez died of “asphyxia during immobilization.”