A disturbing police body camera video (below) has surfaced that shows two police officers exchanging a fist bump after Ben Anthony C de Baca died on Sept. 6, 2015, in Bernalillo, New Mexico.
Police put C de Baca on his stomach, strapped a spit sock over his face and drove their knees into his back. While C de Baca begged for help because he could not breathe, the officers laughed at a penis joke, notes The Daily Beast.
It wasn't until C de Baca went limp that the officers suddenly realized there was a serious problem, but by then it was too late. About 12 minutes after C de Baca died, two police officers are seen on the video doing a fist bump.
The New Mexico Medical Examiner’s Office said C de Baca died from "excited delirium (cocaine intoxication) complicated by means of physical restraint."
Ahmad Assed, a lawyer for C de Baca’s family, said the family planned a wrongful death lawsuit against the three police agencies. The incident occurred on the border of the three jurisdictions, and officers from all three attended the scene.
C de Baca was on some new medication for his mental illness, according to his wife, when he had some "schizophrenic episodes" while the couple were in a drive-thru line at McDonald's.
C de Baca's wife recalled that her husband believed there were people in their car's trunk, and suddenly hit the gas pedal, sending their car into the car in front of them. After the bizarre crash, C de Baca ran to a nearby Wal-Mart, reports The Daily Beast.
C de Baca then drove to the Wal-Mart, where he hit a parked car, reports KOBF.
Both reports say C de Baca destroyed merchandise inside the store.
Wal-Mart employees called 911, and officers from the Bernalillo and Santa Ana police responded to Wal-Mart, while Rio Rancho officers went to McDonald's.
Bernalillo and Santa Ana officers took C de Baca into custody at the Wal-Mart, which is where the video begins.
After C de Baca is handcuffed, the police officers demand that the mentally ill man stand up or be dragged out of the store.
The officers move C de Baca outside into the store parking lot, where they put shackles on his legs, held him on the ground and put a spit sock over his head to stop him from biting.
An officer reads routine questions to C de Baca, and tells him that if he calms down then he will let "some of these guys off your back."
C de Baca repeatedly says: "I can’t breathe," but the officer just keeps asking him for his date of birth. At one point, C de Baca tells the officers that he is "dying," but no one responds.
While C de Baca gasps for air, the officers are busy discussing what they are going to charge him with, and appear to make a penis joke. C de Baca is quiet for several minutes as the police go about their business.
When the police finally notice C de Baca's lifeless body, they try to revive him. Minutes later, paramedics arrive, and the police warn them C de Baca is a "combative male," even though he appears to be dead.
The paramedics ask what happened, and an officer says they detained C de Baca, but does not mention the spit sock.
A sergeant who investigated C de Baca's death noted that the spit sock covered C de Baca’s “face, nose, and mouth," and that "he had not seen a spit sock used in that fashion before."
The New Mexico Medical Examiner’s Office said that an "improperly placed" spit sock can suffocate a person, and would not rule this out in C de Baca’s death.
The Bernalillo and Santa Ana police chiefs refused to comment.
The Rio Rancho Police Department investigated the incident, and ruled that the officers did not act with criminal intent.
It's not clear why it took over a year to release the video.
(Note: Fist bump is at 2:40 mark in edited version)
WARNING: This video is an edited version but contains disturbing scenes.
WARNING: This is the full version of the video and contains disturbing scenes.