NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Newly uncovered video appears to show police officers in Louisiana repeatedly punching and tasing a black man they were arresting shortly before he died in police custody.
Video on KSLAshows an April 5 altercation between Tommie Dale McGlothen, 44, and four police officers in the northern Louisiana city of Shreveport. McGlothen died the next day at a local hospital, according to the coroner.
In the 4 1/2 minute video, which the station shot off of the cellphone of a person who the station said witnessed the altercation, officers can be seen wrestling with a man on the ground, with at least one officer punching him repeatedly and another appearing to hit him with a baton. A voice can be heard saying that the officers were using a Taser on the man. The man can be seen kicking at police officers.
At one point police get the man to his feet with his hands appearing to be handcuffed behind him and he immediately falls or is pushed backward to the ground. After getting him up again, they then walk him over to the police vehicle, push him against it and his head hits the hood.
The video comes at a time of nationwide furor over police treatment of black people. Mourners gathered in Houston Tuesdayto remember George Floyd, a black man who died after an altercation with Minneapolis police.
In a video that sparked protests across the country, Floyd was pinned to the pavement by a white Minneapolis police officer who put a knee on his neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving. Cellphone video of the encounter recorded Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe.”
According to Dr. Todd Thoma, the Caddo Parish Coroner, police arrived at a Shreveport home April 5 after McGlothen blocked a driveway and followed a homeowner into his house. Police reported that McGlothen was “mumbling incoherently” and “exhibiting signs of paranoia and emotional disturbance,” the coroner said in a news release Tuesday.
“Police officers used Tasers, mace and nightsticks to control McGlothen, who was agitated and combative and had fought with a homeowner,” according to the coroner.
According to the coroner, McGlothen died of factors including “excited delirium” but his death possibly could have been prevented and it should have been obvious “that he needed medical care.” The coroner said McGlothen was left in the back of a police vehicle for 48 minutes before it was discovered that he was unresponsive and not breathing.
“He was predominantly unsupervised during this entire period. After a violent confrontation with psychotic behavior, and being tased several times, a more thorough evaluation … would have been indicated,” the coroner said.
“Although autopsy showed that Mr. McGlothen suffered multiple blunt force injuries from both his confrontation with police and the citizens earlier in the day and that evening, no injuries were life-threatening or could be considered serious,” Dr. Thoma said. “Mr. McGlothen had underlying heart disease and clearly was suffering from excited delirium. The combination of these factors caused his death.”
The city’s police chief, Ben Raymond, said in a news releaseMonday that the four officers involved had been placed on leave pending the results of an investigation, saying that “this is a matter of great concern to me.”
Raymond said the police had conducted a thorough investigation into the incident and had sent the results to the district attorney’s office. They also said state police are reviewing the case.
But the Caddo Parish District Attorney seemed to call into question the quality of the police’s investigation in a June 2 press release. In it, James E. Stewart Sr. called for the public’s help in investigating the deaths of two citizens — McGlothen as well as Wavey Austin, who died on April 19.
“Both allegedly died while in the custody and/or control of the Shreveport Police,” the district attorney said. “Upon our initial review of the files, we have found that they are missing reports, statements, downloads, and other vital information that is essential to conduct a thorough and complete review.”
Stewart said the police department was being notified as to what more was needed and he asked for members of the public to bring forward any video or eyewitness accounts.
During a city council meeting Tuesday,Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins said he had concerns about the McGlothen case, including the officers’ use of force and their treatment of someone who might have been exhibiting signs of mental illness.
“Shreveport police officers are charged with serving and protecting all of our citizens, that includes those with mental illness,” he said. “We’re responsible for those in our custody.”
He said more training would be given to first responders so they can detect “excited delirium” and other psychiatric conditions earlier and intervene.