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Frank Tyson dies after Canton Ohio police kneel on his neck

Source: Canton Ohio Police bodycam

I‘ve written this before, but it’s worth repeating: One of the main reasons Black people’s tumultuous relationship with police officers is all but assured to continue is that cops don’t seem to learn from previous high-profile incidents.

Stop me if this sounds familiar. Police officers approached a Black man and struggled with him while placing him in handcuffs. The Black man shouted the words “I can’t breathe” several times and expressed concerns that the officers detaining him were trying to kill him. The officers ignored the warnings as one of them pinned the man to the ground with a knee near his neck until he eventually lay motionless and unresponsive. The Black man ultimately died.

This is not the story of George Floyd.

The Canton Police Department in Canton, Ohio, recently released police body camera footage from an April 18 incident that ended in the death of 53-year-old Frank Tyson, who can be seen in the video struggling with arresting officers at a bar before he’s seen lying motionless on the bar floor for sometime before an officer checks him for a pulse and even longer before CPR is initiated.

First, let’s get into how this tragic and unfortunate incident began. From NBC News:

In the nearly 36-minute video, police respond to the scene of a single-car crash to find a downed power pole and an unoccupied vehicle with the driver’s side door open and an airbag deployed.

In the video, a man in a white van, whose face is blurred, drives by and tells police that the man responsible is at an AMVETS lodge down the street. Officers enter the lodge, and a woman asks them to remove Tyson. When the officers approach him, he knocks over a barstool and tells them to get the sheriff.

They then attempt to handcuff him. Police identified Beau Schoenegge and Camden Burch as the “two primary officers” who responded to the call. The video was captured by Schoenegge’s body camera.

“They’re trying to kill me,” Tyson shouts as he struggles. “They’re trying to kill me.”

Tyson then shouted, “Call the sheriff,” and repeated it several times before saying again that he “can’t breathe.”

After Tyson is taken to the ground, a voice can be heard telling him, “You’re going to get sprayed,” before another voice is heard saying, “Don’t spray him.”

The officers successfully get handcuffs on Tyson, then one of them appears to put his knee on the top of Tyson’s upper body, while Tyson says, again, “I can’t breathe,” and repeats it multiple times.

One would think that, at this point, it would’ve clicked in one of the officers’ minds that this is quickly devolving into what could become the Floyd incident all over again, but as Tyson continues to complain that he can’t breathe, he is told by officers to calm down and stop fighting.

“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. You’re on my neck,” Tyson says.

Again, how does George Floyd not immediately come to mind at this point? To be fair, at the very least, the cop with his knee on Tyson didn’t hold it there for the better part of 10 minutes as Derek Chauvin did to Floyd. However, much like with Chauvin, Tyson’s pleas are responded to with denial that he’s in jeopardy and a cold, contemptuous demand that he “shut the f—k up.”

More from NBC:

The officer had his knee on Tyson for about 30 seconds, according to the video.

Shortly after the officer removes his knee, Tyson again says he can’t breathe, to which someone responds: “You’re fine. Shut the f— up.”

After Tyson appears to stop moving, an officer is seen looking through Tyson’s wallet and talking to bystanders. Tyson appears to be motionless on the floor for more than 5 minutes, while at least one officer talks with bar patrons.

At one point the officer jokes: “I’ve always wanted to be in a bar fight. I don’t know if this counts.”

When one of the officers returns in the frame, he asks whether Tyson has calmed down and whether he’s breathing.

The officer checks him for a pulse, and officers later perform chest compressions on an unresponsive Tyson.

On Friday, Canton police said this in a news release: “Shortly after securing him in handcuffs, Officers recognized that Tyson had become unresponsive.”

Yeah—the word “shortly” is being used very liberally here, isn’t it?

In reality, bodycam footage shows Tyson lying on the floor motionless for about five minutes before his pulse is checked, and around another eight minutes before CPR is attempted. During the span of time the department described as “shortly,” officers had time to question patrons at the bar and make snide remarks before even checking to see if Tyson was OK, and, again, this is after he complained over and over again that he couldn’t breathe.

NBC noted that “the news release said that CPR and several doses of Narcan were administered before Canton Fire Department medics arrived and that Tyson was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m.” Harry Campbell, chief investigator for the Stark County Coroner’s Office, said Tyson’s cause of death has yet to be determined.

The police department also said in its statement that it “immediately contacted” the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct an independent investigation, which the bureau confirmed without mentioning the victim by name. The OBCI described what happened as a “fatal officer-involved critical incident,” and said its investigation into the incident is active and ongoing. Meanwhile, Schoenegge and Burch, who both joined the department in 2022, are on paid administrative leave while the incident is pending.

At the end of the day, Tyson warned that the police were “trying to kill me,” and then he died. No matter how this case shakes out, that is not a thing that should be taken lightly.


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