City of Conway, police department release video of February in-custody death

Local News

Warning: The video may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

CONWAY, Ark.- The City of Conway and the Conway Police Department released an edited video Wednesday giving information on an in-custody death from February 4, 2020.

Lionel Morris, 39, died on February 4 after a struggle with Conway police.

In the video, you can see police confront a man and woman, the man runs away and a struggle between the man and police, which included officers tasing the man. The video also shows the man on the ground with officers surrounding him.

According to Conway Police Chief William Tapley, officers received a call about a shoplifting in progress at Harps Grocery Store on E. German Lane.

Officials say two people were identified by the workers as the suspects.

Conway police say once the item was found, both suspects were asked to place their hands behind their backs.

Police say the woman was placed under arrest.

The man, identified as Lionel Morris, ran from the officers, officials say.

According to police, officers caught Morris inside the store.

Police say they tased Morris multiple times while trying to regain control.

Tapley said during the tasing, Morris said he was in medical distress while he was still fighting.

Conway police say Morris reached for a knife and put an officer in a chokehold.

According to police, an officer grabbed the knife and threw it.

More officers were called to the store.

Officers also called emergency services, according to Tapley.

The police chief said Morris was placed in a recovery position.

According to Conway police, Morris passed away while he was being transported to a hospital.

Tapley said Arkansas State Police investigated the incident over several months, which included interviewing witnesses and an autopsy.

Officials say the autopsy determined Morris tested positive for multiple drugs, including methamphetamine and morphine.

According to Tapley, the level of drugs and strain ultimately contributed to Morris’ death.

Arkansas State Police turned the case to the 20th Judicial District.

According to Tapley, the prosecutor determined there was no wrongdoing by the Conway Police Department or its officers.

Tapley said the use of force in any situation is uncomfortable.

Tapley also said there were areas where Conway Police can do better.

Conway Police are conducting an internal review of the incident.

Video Courtesy: City of Conway, Arkansas YouTube

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