A surveillance camera at Yankee Stadium caught the startling actions of responding NYPD officers who stood over a New York City man for 10 minutes as he lay unconscious after a severe asthma attack.
Moments later, 25-year-old Barrington Williams went into cardiac arrest and was later pronounced dead at Lincoln Medical Center.
Last year, Williams’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NYPD. The suit names Officers Joel Guach, Agenol Ramos, and Robert O’Brien as defendants, according to the New York Daily News.
Jason Leventhal, the family’s lawyer, reviewed the tape once investigators turned the video evidence over.
“For 10 minutes the officers were indifferent and apathetic to Barrington’s life, and those 10 minutes can be the difference between life and death,” said Leventhal.
Williams was caught selling MetroCard swipes on September 17, 2013 and ran from the police. He was eventually tackled to the ground and restrained by handcuffs at 1:57 p.m., according to the surveillance footage.
At 2:08 p.m., a medic arrived and administered chest compressions on Williams’ unconscious body. But the family was troubled that for 10 minutes in between the time he was handcuffed and the chest compressions, officers did not administer CPR.
Karen Brown, Williams’ mother, says her son dealt with asthma since the age of 12.
“I don’t believe he should have died for a MetroCard swipe,” she said.
An Internal Affairs Bureau investigation notes that Williams was apprehended after a chase through the Yankee Stadium subway station and that he informed officers of his asthma after they handcuffed him.
It also states Williams foamed at the mouth and urinated on himself before he passed out. At 2:08 p.m., firefighters arrived and administered basic life support, and at 2:13 p.m., removed his handcuffs to begin advanced CPR.
The report mentions a lieutenant’s account, who states that Williams appeared conscious during CPR.
The IAB investigation also notes there was no excessive force used by officers. The Bronx district attorney’s office concluded there was no criminal activity involved.
Video evidence shows a cop holding an asthma inhaler near Williams’ face, who was unresponsive. It also shows officers searched his pockets, then propped him up, eventually placing him on his side.
Leventhal says Williams’ death can be compared to two notable cases in which Black men were killed at the hands of police: Eric Garner, who died from asthma spurred by a police chokehold, and Akai Gurley, who was shot by Officer Peter Liang in a Brooklyn stairwell.
The officers involved in Garner’s death were not indicted, but the case is under federal investigation. Liang was eventually convicted of manslaughter and official misconduct because he did not immediately administer CPR or call for medical attention.
According to The Daily News, the NYPD Patrol Guide calls for officers to “render reasonable aid to sick or injured person.” However, there is no specific order to perform CPR or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the guide.
The Daily News writes:
Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz proposed in 2010 “Briana’s Law” — which has not been enacted — requiring cops to be recertified annually for CPR. The bill was offered in memory of 11-year-old Briana Ojeda, who died of an asthma attack after a cop claimed he didn’t help because he didn’t know how to perform the lifesaving technique.
SOURCES: New York Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty