Nearly four months before George Floyd was murdered by police while pleading with them that he could not breathe, a man named Lionel Morris died in Arkansas at the hands of police repeating those same words.
The 39-year-old man died on February 4 after employees of Harp’s Food Store called police, accusing him and his girlfriend of shoplifting a drone by removing it out of its package.
Conway police say they were able to locate the drone inside the shopping cart hidden under other items which is what led to his arrest.
The edited footage begins as officers attempt to arrest Morris and Arnold. A minute-and-forty-seconds into the video, Morris is seen fleeing officers down the aisle. The chase ends as officers tackle Morris to the ground, five aisles down.
Officers attempt to cuff Morris, but he was able to stand up. Two minutes into the video, one of the body cameras fall to the ground.
The narrator, Police Chief William Tapley, says that officers told Morris “to submit to arrest more than forty times,” but in the footage released, the only thing that is heard is officers demanding Morris to put his hands behind his back.
At this point, officers tasered Morris multiple times, according to Chief Tapley.
Morris’ screams and pleas for help are clearly heard even though the video goes black from the camera falling on the floor.
“My heart, my heart, my heart. Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Help me, please! Help me, please! Help me, help me!”
The footage then switches to a blurry footage captured by a store security camera.
Chief Tapley says that Morris reached for a knife that he was carrying, but it is unclear in the footage provided.
Approximately five minutes into the incident, more officers arrive, according to Chief Tapley’s narration.
“A CALL FOR EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES WAS MADE BY OFFICERS BEFORE HANDCUFFS WERE SECURED.”
Four-minutes-and forty-seconds into the footage, an officer is heard telling Morris that if he can speak then he is able to breathe which is a myth that officers learn in the police academy.
Morris is heard repeatedly wheezing. As Morris attempts to get in a better position to properly breathe, an officer tells him to put his head back down and straighten his leg but an officer’s boot was firmly planted on his leg, preventing it from moving.
In a final attempt to let officers know he is struggling to stay alive, Morris tells them that he cannot breathe but Metro EMS found him unresponsive and pulseless at the scene, according to KATV.
Morris was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Arkansas State Police investigated the incident and turned its findings over to the prosecutor.
The prosecutor cleared the cops of any wrongdoing, blaming Morris’s death on methamphetamine intoxication with exertion, struggle, restraint along with the electrical weapon deployment.
Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry reviewed the footage and has called for the officers involved to be placed on paid leave. Watch the chief’s edited video below or the more extended video here.