Sgt. James Brown was only supposed to spend 48 hours in El Paso County Jail for a DWI, but, unfortunately, he never left the correctional facility alive. The decorated soldier and Iraq war veteran died in police custody at the age of 26. Now, footage of the final moments leading up to his mysterious death has been released. Since Brown’s death in 2012, police have kept the video safeguarded away from public view, but now the footage has hit the internet.
On May 15, a copy of the graphic raw video was obtained KFOX-14. The 16-minute video, which was captured inside El Paso County Jail, raises a number of questions about the reported series of events that led up to Sgt. Brown’s death. At the beginning of the video, an officer can be seen kneeling toward the bottom of a cell talking to Brown, who refuses to respond. The officer tries repeatedly to communicate with the Fort Bliss soldier, but to no avail. He stated that if Brown refused to respond, he would send in a task force to extract him out of the cell.
That’s when Brown appears in the window, where he can be seen beating on the glass and shouting expletives that have been muted out. As the video continues, the task forces enter the cell wearing riot gear in an effort to remove Brown, and things take a horrific turn for the worse. When the task force floods the cell, Brown is taken down by approximately seven officers.
Warning: Video contains graphic content that may be offensive to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
At one point, there are so many inside the cell that Brown can barely be seen. As they continue to subdue him, he can be heard repeatedly saying that he was choking and could not breathe. Several media outlets have reported that Brown voiced his concerns in desperation more than 20 times. Unfortunately, his words were never taken into consideration.
By the six-minute mark, Brown is removed from the cell and carried to another room. His condition steadily deteriorates as he’s moved to the infirmary, where a mask is placed on his face. Repeatedly he asked for the mask to be removed, stating he had “problems” but, to no avail. One officer simply tells Brown to “chill,” but he reiterates that he cannot calm down because he can’t breathe and begs them to remove the mask.
At around the 14:30 mark, Brown is taken to a sink and allowed to rinse his face with his arms behind his back. His head can be seen under the faucet, but once again, he says he cannot breathe. Then, Brown is taken to another room, where his clothes are removed. He’s placed face down on the ground and subdued yet again, but eventually stops moving altogether. Then, the camera shuts off.
Here’s an excerpt from a previous report about Brown’s death based on the footage via the Root.
“By the end of the clip, Brown’s physical condition appears to deteriorate, showing shallow breathing and no longer blinking or being responsive. Brown appears to no longer be capable of pleading for anything. Attorneys say at no time was an ambulance or 911 called for help.”
According to a previous KFOX-14 report, Brown stated that he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when he arrived at the correctional facility. Now, the family is accusing the department of not taking his mental illness into consideration and disregarding his constitutional rights, citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act due to their use of excessive force.
Now, the family is suing El Paso County for Brown’s death. According to Democracy Now, the family’s attorney B.J. Crow released a statement about Brown’s mysterious death and the family’s intent to seek justice. The number of injuries Brown reportedly suffered during what was supposed to be a two-day stint in jail definitely raises concerns. Although medical examiners insist Brown died from “natural causes” as a result of a pre-existing medical condition, the family argues that excessive force contributed to his untimely death.
“When a 26-year-old active military person checks into jail for a court-imposed sentence on a Friday, and he leaves Sunday, you know, in a casket, something went horribly wrong there…. He was bleeding out the ears, the nose, the mouth. His kidneys shut down. His blood pressure dropped to a very dangerous level. And his liver shut down.”
Brown’s family is expected to appear in court sometime in October later this year.
[Image via KFOX-14 Screen Capture]