A video (below) from May 4, 2013, showing three police officers using their Tasers on a black man, Linwood Lambert, 20 times in roughly 30 minutes in South Boston, Virginia, was recently released.
MSNBC aired the video, and notes that Lambert was picked up by Cpl. Tiffany Bratton, Officer Clifton Mann and Officer Travis Clay after allegedly causing a disturbance at a Super 8 motel.
Lambert was reportedly delusional but not arrested. The 48-year-old man was handcuffed by cops who took him to the Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.
However, when the police car arrived at the hospital, Lambert kicked out the back window of the cruiser, jumped out and ran for the ER doors. The three officers repeatedly used their Tasers on him in front of the ER, even after he had fallen to the ground.
"Every time you get up, I’m going to pop you," Bratton yelled during the incident.
“I’m going to light you up again," Bratton shouted. "Roll over, roll over!"
“Why are you trying to kill me, man?" Lambert responded.
He can also be heard begging the officers not to use the tasers on him again.
The cops shackled Lambert's hands and feet and charged him with disorderly conduct and destruction of property.
The cops did not allow Lambert to see a doctor before placing him back in the cruiser.
While Lambert was bound in the police car, officers used their Tasers on him again because he wasn't sitting the way they demanded.
“He’s bleeding like a hog,” Mann reportedly told a hospital worker before leaving for the jail. “We thought he was crazy, and then he finally told us he was on cocaine.”
The police told ambulance workers that they took Lambert “to the jail where he again was combative," according to the hospital's official rescue incident report cited by MSNBC.
"After they finally got him to the ground he was in the prone position and he calmed down," the report added. "Then they realized that the patient was not breathing and they started CPR.”
Originally, police claimed in their reports that Lambert was “quiet on the ride to the jail” and “not breathing” when he arrived at the jail, which is what the video appears to show.
The police tried CPR before calling the paramedics. They then waited for an ambulance to take Lambert back to the same hospital.
In the autopsy report, it was written that Lambert died from “acute cocaine intoxication,” which Lambert admitted to using. But he was found to only have "less than 0.01 mg/L" in his system at the time of his death.
“Having a level of 5 mg/L or higher would be more consistent with death due to cocaine intoxication,” Dr. Lewis Nelson, a medical toxologist and emergency medicine specialist, told MSNBC.
“Low levels don’t rule out cocaine as a cause of death,” Nelson added.
Tom Sweeney, lawyer for Lambert's sister, Gwendolyn Smalls, said it was the 20 deployments of the Tasers by police that killed Lambert. He added that while the coroner's report did mention the fact that Lambert had been tased, it did not mention the fact that he was tased multiple times by multiple officers are the same time.
This summer, Sweeney filed a $25 million lawsuit on behalf of Smalls, accusing the police of excessive force, wrongful death, denial of medical care and other claims.
Smalls had not seen the video of her brother's death until now. The video was only released by the South Boston Police Department after a court ordered it.
In court papers, the police department defended the officers' use of their Tasers as “appropriate and necessary,” even though the department's own rules state that using a Taser “is no longer justified once the subject has been restrained.”
The department's rules also state that officers "should" take a suspect who has been tased to the Halifax Regional Hospital, but the officers took Lambert to jail instead.
The Richmond-Times Dispatch reported in May 2015 that press releases issued by Virginia State Police and South Boston only weeks after the incident in 2013 did not mention that Lambert had been tased.
The South Boston Police Department refused to comment on the case to MSNBC, and the department's lawyer, Jim Daniel, said “cases in litigation ought to be decided in the court system" not by making public comments.
“The investigation remains open,” Halifax County attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin told the news channel this week.
However, South Boston Lt. D. W. Barker wrote in a police report, obtained by MSNBC, in March 2015 that Martin “advised that she had looked into the matter and felt that the officers had no criminal fault in the investigation,” but wanted another prosecutor “assigned to the case to review everything behind her.”
In response, Martin told the news channel: “It would be premature to comment on a preliminary opinion when the investigation is still pending. I will withhold a final judgment until my investigation is complete.”
All three officers involved in the incident have since been promoted.
The case is currently in the discovery phase, and a hearing is scheduled for Nov 12.