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Terrell Akeem in the custody of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Source: Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has filed a lawsuit over the in-custody death of a Black man in Arizona alleging excessive force and “deliberate indifference to obvious medical needs by the officers,” according to a press release sent to NewsOne.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of Akeem Terrell, who died on New Year’s Day 2021 after officers arrested him at a party for purportedly refusing to leave. The Sheriff of Maricopa County, Maricopa County, the city of Phoenix and nine officers are named in the suit over an incident that Crump said bore eerie similarities to the murder of George Floyd.

Video footage from inside a police station shows Terrell, 31, exhibiting signs of a mental crisis. Still, police officers are shown handcuffing Terrell to the floor before swarming him for minutes at a time. Terrell could be heard yelling for his life. When the cops were done, they left Terrell’s motionless body on the ground for six minutes before anyone attempted to give him medical attention. AZ Central has published the video.

From AZ Central:

Terrell was 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed more than 400 pounds. Because of his size, the lawsuit said officers used two sets of handcuffs linked together that “forced Akeem’s hands behind his back in a strange, painful, and unnatural way.”

Several officers put their weight on Terrell, who was lying in a prone position with his arms behind his back. Terrell told the officers they were killing him as they folded his legs up and pressed them down onto his body.

The video shows Terrell’s head and face were smashed up against a wall as he grunted and struggled with the officers on top of him. 

At one time, as many as seven officers were on top of Terrell and holding him down.

Crump compared the treatment that he said led to Akeem’s death to what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

“Akeem Terrell had a history of mental illness, and instead of compassion and treatment, officers showed him indifference and negligence. As he was taken into the station, he said, ‘Y’all trying to kill me,’ and just as we saw in that video, it turns out they would. Just like George Floyd, Akeem was put in a prone position, face down, which has been proven to be dangerous and all-too-often deadly,” Crump said in a statement emailed to NewsOne.

Crump obviously knows the Floyd case well since he represented that family in a similar wrongful death lawsuit that yielded a record settlement with the city of Minneapolis for $27 million.

“While Akeem’s death occurred before the convictions of the officers responsible for George Floyd’s death for similar actions, it is clear that due to the lack of accountability, more change needs to occur in law enforcement communities,” Crump continued. “These officers must answer for their negligence and excessive force that obviously contributed to Terrell losing his life. Terrell’s life mattered, and he deserved better care in his time of crisis.”

This is America.


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