Black inmate John Neville dies shouting 'I can't breathe' over 20 times as prison guards hog-tie him to chair

A medical examiner had revealed that Neville had a brain injury that was triggered after his heart stopped beating and deprived his brain of oxygen which had been the cause of death


                            Black inmate John Neville dies shouting 'I can't breathe' over 20 times as prison guards hog-tie him to chair
(Forsyth County jail, YouTube)
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WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA: A North Carolina Black man had shouted out 'I can't breathe' more than 20 times and called out for his mother in some newly released footage. In the footage, John Neville, 56, a father of two, was seen being restrained by prison guards before his death. Neville had been put in a "hog-tie" position by prison guards at the Forsyth County Jail in Winston-Salem in North Carolina, Oxygen reports.

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The incident had reportedly taken place on December 2, 2019. The footage shows Neville struggling to breathe possibly. He died at the hospital a couple of days later. A medical examiner had revealed that Neville had a brain injury that was triggered after his heart stopped beating and deprived his brain of oxygen which had been the cause of death. The New York Times states that five former jail officers which included a nurse were charged with involuntary manslaughter after he died. 

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One of the videos showed a group of guards who had gathered around Neville as he was being restrained in a chair with a restraining bag on his head. Neville, who had been in jail on allegations of assaulting a woman, is heard begging the guards saying that he could not breathe dozens of times. He is heard shouting, "Help me!" as he tries to tell the officers about moving off his wrists. One of the guards responds, "You need to relax so I can get the cuffs off." "Let me go! Let me go! I can’t breathe! Let me go! Please! Please! I can’t breathe," Neville pleaded. It can be seen that the officers did not take his pleas seriously and downplayed the whole situation.

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According to his family's legal counsel, Neville had screamed out 'I can't breathe' 24 times. His attorney, Mike Grace, said that the videos showed a "very definite lack of respect for human dignity, for human life, especially a Black human life in jail". While speaking to the Washington Post, Grace released a state saying, "The video won’t show anyone kicking Mr Neville or hitting Mr Neville or actively attacking him. They just didn’t give a damn about him, and I don’t know which is worse. It was a life, according to the coroner, that he shouldn’t have died. Didn’t have to die."

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The guards were heard telling him, "You’re breathing because you’re talking, you’re yelling, and you’re moving. You need to stop. You need to relax. Quit resisting us." Neville was then placed on his back and his breathing is labored as he slips in and out of consciousness. A nurse then attempts to take his blood pressure while he continues to gasp for breath. Prison staff then tells Neville, "You’re having a medical problem. Let medical handle this." He was then placed in the "hog-tie" position. He is seen in agony and pain crying out for his "mama". 

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On December 4, 2019, Neville was pronounced dead at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. An autopsy said he had died due to "positional and compressional asphyxia during prone restraint". Before the video was released, earlier this week, Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough had acknowledged and apologized for the incident. Many social media users were outraged as the footage continues to be shared across social media platforms. One such user shared, "The cruelty it takes to hear his voice as it grows weaker, to hear him beg and they don’t listen, they don’t help him. My tears are flowing, how could anyone be so heartless so cruel, so uncaring about another human being."

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Another user added, "You know what absolutely infuriated me about this video? The fact that he’s HANDCUFFED IN JAIL, and yet, when repeatedly saying he can’t breathe and begging them to get off him, and somehow he’s still considered a “threat.” Fucking HOW?! 1. In Jail 2. Handcuffed."

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"Someone needs to be talking about this. Twenty nine times, I can’t breathe and all of those detention people watching and no one ordered him to stop. I hate people like this!" commented another.

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