(Reuters) – Police in Oklahoma have released body camera footage showing the 2019 arrest of a man who said “I can’t breathe,” to which an officer responded “I don’t care” just minutes before the suspect became unresponsive and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The arrest of Derrick Scott, 42, in Oklahoma City was investigated, and the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office found that the officers involved acted appropriately. All officers were cleared of wrongdoing.
The body camera footage of the officers involved was released this week at the demand of Black Lives Matter protesters.
NBC News reported that Scott’s autopsy, which it obtained, listed his cause of death as a collapsed lung and the manner of death as “undetermined.” Recent use of methamphetamine and asthma were listed as contributing factors.
The release of the footage comes amid intense debate in the United States over police brutality and racial justice following the death of George Floyd, who said “I can’t breathe” as a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Scott’s May 20, 2019, arrest was prompted by a 911 caller who said the man was threatening people with a handgun. When officers arrived to question him, Scott began running. He was tackled by officers and a handgun was found in his pants pocket.
Police Captain Larry Withrow said on Thursday that Scott appeared to quickly become unconscious while in handcuffs and lying on his stomach. He was rolled into a “recovery position,” and officers called an ambulance.
Withrow defended the officer who told Scott he didn’t care when he said he could not breathe.
“During the heat of a conflict like that, certainly that may be something an officer says. Just understand the officers are fighting with someone at that point,” Withrow told NBC.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; editing by Jonathan Oatis)