Society

Unarmed Teen Dies In Police Custody In Georgia (Video)

| by Michael Allen

A police dash cam video (below) released on March 3 shows 18-year-old Nicholas Dyksma dying in police custody on Aug. 31, 2015, in Harris County, Georgia.

Greg Dyksma, the boy's dad, recently told the Ledger-Enquirer: "I was originally told that he hit a tree at 80 mph. Then the story changed to he hit a cop car at 10 mph. Then it changed to they pushed him off the road. So I heard all these stories, but nothing’s been confirmed."

Lawyers representing the Dyksma family, who have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the police are responsible for Nicholas' death, obtained the Harris County cruiser dash cam video.

The video is also part of a probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has been ongoing since August 2015.

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The dash cam footage shows then-Deputy Thomas Pierson with his knee on Nicholas' neck while the boy is on the ground, notes the Ledger-Enquirer.

Greg told the newspaper he wants accountability:

Somebody needs to be held accountable for what happened at the end. I’m not saying he should have got off scot-free, and been able to go and just do what he wants.

What I’m saying is that what he did didn’t deserve the death sentence, and if that’s what the officers’ policies and procedures are, they need to fix that, because it could be your son, your daughter, your family member...

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Greg recalled where his son was supposed to be on Aug. 31, 2015:

He was supposed to be staying at a friend’s house that night, and apparently they got into an argument; that’s the story I get. And instead of coming home, he decided to sleep in his car at a gas station, which is where he was ... That’s where the whole thing started. He was at Circle K on the Airport Thruway.

At about 1:45 a.m., a worker saw Nicholas asleep in his pickup truck, knocked on the window, was not able to rouse him and called 911.

Cpl. Roy Green knocked on the pickup truck's window until Nicholas woke up.

According to Greg, his son drove away without speaking to Green.

However, Green followed Nicholas, and turned on his lights to pull him over in case the young man was drunk. Nicholas did not pull over, but sped up. Green notified Harris County that he was chasing Nicholas.

Harris County deputies set up spike strips, which blew out Nicholas' tires after a chase that reached 85 mph at times.

In the dash cam video, four deputies converge on Nicholas' pickup truck, which ran off the side of a road.

The deputies yell orders at Nicholas, and break the driver's side window, but the vehicle surges a few feet before stopping.

The deputies smash the passenger's side window, open the door and drag Nicholas out of the pickup truck and on to the ground.

Nicholas is handcuffed face-down, and Pierson appears to have his knee on the boy's neck at 2:13 a.m.

"They cuffed him, pulled him back off the road a little bit, then after they handcuffed him, Pierson put his knee back on his neck for a while, which is I think when they actually killed him, because he couldn’t breathe," Greg stated.

While a deputy holds the teen down, two deputies and Pierson search the pickup truck and discover the registration is expired.

The deputies notice at 2:15 a.m. that Nicholas is unconscious, and try to wake him up.

The deputies wave ammonia under the teen's nose at 2:19 a.m., but he does not wake up.

At 2:21 a.m. one deputy thinks he feels a faint pulse, however, the deputies decide at 2:22 a.m. that Nicholas is not breathing.

The deputies start performing CPR at 2:23 a.m. An ambulance comes to the scene at 2:25 a.m. and leaves with Nicholas' body at 2:38 a.m.

The autopsy report from Sept. 1, 2015, said Nicholas had "acute methamphetamine intoxication" when the deputies pinned him on the ground in the prone position.

The autopsy stated: "At various times while he was prone, there was compression applied to his neck and torso."

Nicholas also had injuries from Taser barbs, and scrapes on his legs, arms, face and chest.

The autopsy ruled Nicholas' death was a homicide.

"Sudden death during an altercation with law enforcement, after deployment of an electroconductive device, with prone positioning, compression of the neck and torso, and acute methamphetamine intoxication," it states.

According to the autopsy report, Nicholas weighed 134 pounds.

"Now he’s not resisting at all, so why the continued violence on this kid?" Greg asked. "Why does it need to keep going? He’s not going anywhere. You’ve got four big guys around him."

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley told WTVM in August 2015: "Preliminary after interviewing all the deputies on the scene, and looking at the footage of the vehicle cameras that we have, it appears that all our policies were followed."

There was no mention by the sheriff's office of Nicholas not being able to breathe under Pierson's weight.

The Dyksma family's lawsuit against Jolley, Pearson, Sgt. Joe Harmon, Deputy Heath Dawson, and Deputy William Sturdevant says that Jolley's comments showed his approval:

After a careful review of the video, Sheriff Jolley made a public statement to the news media that the deputies involved … were following his policies when they engaged in the actions shown on the video…. Sheriff Jolley’s conduct in approving their conduct without criticism and failing to discipline or retrain them further supports the conclusion that the deputies acted in accordance with his policy...

Jolley's name may sound familiar to Opposing Views readers.

In November 2015, Jolley put a sign outside of the sheriff's office that told people to leave the area if they were offended by the words "Merry Christmas."

WRBL noted the sign stated: "WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America, and in God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you… LEAVE!"

Jolley and his lawyers did not comment to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Sources: Ledger-Enquirer, WTVM, WRBL / Photo Credit: WXIA