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Title: New Documents And Testimony Shows Officers Lied About Their Role In An Arrested Teen's Death
Source: TechDirt
URL Source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/2 ... ole-arrested-teens-death.shtml
Published: Dec 15, 2017
Author: Tim Cushing
Post Date: 2017-12-18 10:44:37 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 31

from the real-criminal-conspirators-are-the-ones-with-badges dept

Earlier this year, we covered the horrific story of the death of a 5'4" 110-lb. 18-year-old at the hands of the Mesquite (TX) police department. The teen, suffering from a bad acid trip, was tased multiple times, threatened with death by an officer, and left to die in a jail cell with little more than a cursory nod towards his health and wellbeing.

Graham Dyer's parents were unable to obtain any details about their son's death from the Mesquite PD. The department refused to turn over records, pointing to state law allowing it to withhold records on arrested suspects who never faced criminal charges. This exemption may have made sense to lawmakers at the point it was passed. But in-custody deaths are inherently questionable. This exemption does little more than give law enforcement agencies everything they need to cover up misconduct.

Fortunately, Dyer's parents didn't stop there. They asked the FBI to open an investigation into their son's death. The FBI closed its investigation without forwarding it to the DOJ for charges but the investigation did serve at least one purpose: it allowed Dyer's parents to finally obtain records related to their son's last night on earth.

What they found was horrifying. Video showed their son thrashing around in the back of a police car, incoherent and completely unrestrained. Captured audio captured an officer threatening to kill their son if he didn't calm down. The in-car video also showed the same officer repeatedly tasing their son in the testicles. (The officer claims he was aiming for the "inner thigh" but Dyer kept moving. Considering a taser is effective almost anywhere it's placed, why place it so close to a person's testicles unless you're hoping to "accidentally" tase that part of the arrestee?) They also saw their son dragged from the police car at the jail sally port, laying on the floor with an officer's foot on his head.

Without these records from the FBI, the Dyers would never have known what led to their son's death. The Mesquite PD's refusal to turn over records also served its own purpose: it ran the clock on the statute of limitations. The state can no longer bring criminal charges against the officers -- despite the DA saying there's evidence of criminal behavior.

But that can't prevent the officers from being sued. The Dyers have taken the Mesquite PD to court and now, at long last, the PD is being forced to hand over the documents it refused to give to the teen's parents. What's in these documents -- and the officers' testimony -- only adds to the portrait of these officers' depraved indifference.

To begin with, the officers who arrested Dyer showed almost zero concern for his wellbeing. Not once did they consider bringing the teen to a nearby hospital. Nor was any sort of health check given when Dyer was turned over to the local jail. But the arresting officers had every reason to believe Dyer might be seriously injured.

While being loaded into a cruiser, Dyer banged his head several times against the car. During the first mile on the drive to the city jail, he slammed his head 19 times against the side door, back seat or metal cage separating the car’s front and back.

Halfway to the jail, in what they have described as an attempt to calm him down, the officers pulled to the side of the road. One used his Taser, shocking Dyer in his testicles.

Some police departments call for a medical evaluation after Taser use. Instead of diverting to the emergency room a half-mile away, however, the officers resumed driving. No additional restraints were applied, and during the second half of the trip Dyer hit his head against the car’s interior 27 more times.

At the jail, officers unloaded the handcuffed and leg-tied Dyer onto the sally-port floor outside the jail. There, they watched him bang his head again on the concrete pad.

According to their own testimony, none of the officers informed jail staff about possible head trauma suffered by Dyer. Nor did anyone ask for medical care until after Dyer had been laying motionless in a jail cell for two hours.

On top of that, the officers' stories -- backed by apparently falsified reports -- are falling apart.

The Dyers have noted that, at the least, the depositions given by the five police officers who responded to the middle school on Aug. 13, 2013, have challenged the official version of Graham’s arrest that police initially presented to them.

In their pleadings, police described Graham and his friends as belligerent and combative. But in individual depositions, the officers conceded the teens were mostly cooperative. Graham, for example, was kept on the ground for more than 10 minutes with modest effort, they said.

[...]

In their original incident report, the Mesquite officers had written: “Dyer could not calm down and walk to the patrol unit, therefore officers had to carry Dyer to the patrol unit.” Yet the video depicts him walking to the cruiser.

At the jail, the police report again described Graham as combative: “It took multiple officers and detention officers to remove Dyer from the back seat of the patrol unit, escort him inside the jail, and placed him in a restraint chair and padded cell for his safety.” The video, however, shows him lying mostly motionless on the ground.

It's a compound lie. Dyer was never placed in a restraint chair. He laid on the concrete floor until officers booked him and left him in a cell to finish dying.

Even though the statute of limitations prevents the DA from bringing charges against the officers, it doesn't prevent the Mesquite PD from handing out its own discipline. But it has done nothing. All officers involved in Dyer's death remain employed.

Fortunately, the FBI's investigation has given the Dyers the documentation they need to pursue legal action against the Mesquite PD. But that may be the only good to have come out of this. A bill brought by a state rep to close the exemption the Mesquite PD used to wait out the statute of limitations died on the House floor. And in the end, it won't be the involved officers paying for the teen's death, it will be the state's taxpayers.

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