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Innocent Man In Oakland Police Custody Screams 'I Can't Breathe' Before Dying (Video)

A newly released police body camera shows Oakland police pressing a handcuffed Hernan Jaramillo down on the sidewalk as he yells, "I can't breathe" and "They're killing me!" multiple times before dying on July 8, 2013.

The video of the 51-year-old man dying was not released by the Oakland Police Department, but was obtained and published by the Contra Costa Times on Jan. 28.

In the video, the officers lecture the dying man and keep him restrained on the sidewalk. 

One officer tells Jaramillo: "You're gonna stay here until you relax" and "Sir, just relax and we'll let you go." The same officer later adds, "Sir, we're not killing you."

The incident began when Jaramillo's sister, Ana Biocini, called the police at around 1:40 a.m because she believed an intruder was trying to kill Jaramillo.

When police came to the home, they found only the sister and Jaramillo, who would not let police into his bedroom. But the officers got in and handcuffed him.

According to court papers, the city attorney said Jaramillo resisted police commands 20 times when they tried to put him into a police car. Jaramillo was not a suspect for any crime.

Police detained Jaramillo for allegedly blocking them from investigating whether there was an intruder at the home, according to the city attorney.

Police Officer Ira Anderson said in court papers that while he was trying to get Jaramillo into a squad car, he noticed Jaramillo's hands were handcuffed in front of his body, not in back.

"I grabbed him by the shirt," Anderson stated. "I brought him away from the car ... did a leg sweep and put him on the sidewalk."

The cops stated that they held Jaramillo down by his arms and wrists, but witnesses recalled a police officer shoving his knee into Jaramillo's back.

Paramedics said Jaramillo was not responsive and was bound in handcuffs when they found him. They also reportedly found vomit in Jaramillo's airways.

In court papers, police said Jaramillo was breathing until the paramedics arrived, notes Ars Technica:

"The officers explained to him that he was not under arrest and asked him to sit in a patrol car with his feet outside the car. Mr. Jaramillo refused and resisted. One of his hands became un-cuffed and Mr. Jaramillo continued resisting. Mr. Jaramillo fell to the ground where the officers were able to re-handcuff Mr. Jaramillo.

"While on the ground Mr. Jaramillo was screaming. Ms. Biocini and officers encouraged Mr. Jaramillo to relax. He stopped screaming and was breathing. The officers called an ambulance. Mr. Jaramillo was breathing. When the paramedics arrived, Mr. Jaramillo had become unresponsive. Mr. Jaramillo had a potentially lethal dose of cocaine in his system. The Coroner listed the cause of death as 'multiple drug intoxication associated with physical exertion.'"

John Burris, the lawyer for Jaramillo's family in a wrongful death lawsuit, said that an independent pathologist did not agree that drugs played a role in Jaramillo's death. Burris said there was no evidence to show that Jaramillo had used cocaine the night that he died.

The Alameda County District Attorney will not investigate the deaths of people in police custody unless a shooting is involved, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Despite the city's defense of the police officers' actions, it paid out $450,000 the week before the video was released to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with Jaramillo's relatives, reports Contra Costa Times.

The Oakland Police department did not answer questions from the newspaper, and the city attorney who defended the case directed questions to the Oakland City Council.

WARNING: Disturbing video.

Sources: Contra Costa Times, Ars Technica / Photo credit: The Free Thought Project/YouTube

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