Arrested man, 28, on road as he shouts 'I can't breathe' sparks probe

Sussex Police officers filmed pinning arrested man, 28, on road as he shouts ‘I can’t breathe’ sparks probe by force watchdog.

Footage of an arrested man claiming he couldn’t breathe while three officers restrained him has sparked an internal investigation by their bosses and Britain’s police watchdog today.

The suspect, who is believed to be from Brighton’s BAME community, was held on suspicion of criminal damage and assaulting an emergency worker in Montpelier Road this week.

The unnamed man is heard yelling: ‘I can’t breathe. That is my Adam’s apple and you are crushing it’ – but the officer closest to his head repeatedly tells him that his arm is on his collarbone. 

The footage emerged two days before a Black Lives Matter protest in the city following the murder of George Floyd in the US who died when a police officer crushed his neck with his knee. 

Sussex Police said today it would be reviewing the body camera footage but insisted the man became aggressive towards officers before being placed on the ground. The incident has been also referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

In the video, the man on the ground says: ‘Why have you got your arm on my neck Bro, I can’t breathe.’

An officer replies, saying the arm is on the man’s collarbone, not his throat.

In a statement, Sussex Police said: ‘Police officers searching for a vulnerable missing teenager attended an address in Montpelier Road in Brighton at 10.15am on Tuesday 7 July.

‘A resident of the address, a 28-year-old man, refused police entry and was arrested.

‘Police subsequently found the missing 17-year-old young woman hiding at the property and returned them safely home.

‘Once under arrest, the man became aggressive towards officers and was handcuffed and placed on the ground before being transported to custody.

‘We train our officers to protect themselves and others using reasonable force and are reviewing this footage, together with body-worn video captured by the officers of the entire interaction, to identify if any further investigation or learning is required.’

The film was being shared widely on social media today.

One witness told the Brighton Argus: ‘I was utterly shocked. I’d never seen anything like this before. Unfortunately I didn’t film the initial arrest. I couldn’t believe how long they held him down to the ground for, I didn’t understand why they didn’t handcuff him straight away. He didn’t appear to be resisting and was clearly distressed and in pain, he didn’t seem to be on drugs or drunk.

‘Regardless of the suspected crime, this use of force was unlike anything I had seen before.  It made me feel unbelievably shocked’. 

Last month an investigation was launched after a 35-year-old man died in police custody in Devon.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is also looking into the death of Simeon Francis, 35, who was found unresponsive in his cell in Devon

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is looking into the death of Simeon Francis, who was found unresponsive in his cell.

The probe was launched as video footage of him telling officers: ‘I can’t breathe’ in a previous arrest ten months earlier.

In 2019 a video showed a suspect yell ‘I can’t breathe’ as he struggled with two police officers in South London.

Onlookers shouted to the officers ‘You’re killing him!’ during the dramatic footage, filmed in Lewisham Way and uploaded to social media .

The video shows two police officers dragging a man on a bike of the road and pin him to a hedge to try and detain him.

The man can be heard saying ‘I’m not even fighting, let me stand up.’ The police officer shouts back: ‘You’re fighting mate!’

The scuffle then continues on the pavement as a bystander approaches to confront the police officers.

One officer shouts ‘move away, move away!’ to the bystander. The man then yells out: ‘I can’t breathe bruv, I can’t f***ing breathe, I can’t breathe, I was trying to speak to you.’

On one officer, who has his arm around the man’s neck, says: ‘When you’re in cuffs we’ll get you up.’ 

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