Newly released police body camera footage shows the final moments of an unarmed man’s life as he was pinned face-down on the ground by Dallas officers who mocked him when he appeared to fall unconscious instead of checking his pulse or making sure he was breathing.
Tony Timpa, 32, died after his encounter with police on Aug. 10, 2016 ― a death later ruled homicide by a Dallas County medical examiner.
Timpa had called authorities that night from the parking lot of an adult video store seeking help. He told a dispatcher that he had schizophrenia and had not taken his medication. An autopsy showed Timpa was high on cocaine at the time.
Body camera footage ― obtained by the Dallas Morning News and NBC-DFW after a lengthy legal battle with Dallas police — shows what happened next. The troubling footage, part of which was released Wednesday, shows officers arriving at the scene to find Timpa already in handcuffs. According to NBC-DFW, Timpa had been restrained by security guards after he attempted to run into traffic.
As the officers approached Timpa, who was writhing on the ground, he yelled, “You’re going to kill me! You’re gonna kill me!”
An officer pinned Timpa to the ground — his face in the grass and hands cuffed behind his back. NBC-DFW said the man was held in that position for 14 minutes.
“Will you let me go please?” Timpa is heard pleading with the officers.
WARNING: This video contains footage that some viewers may find disturbing.
Timpa eventually becomes unresponsive.
As the Morning News notes, the officers noticed Timpa’s sudden silence, but assumed he was asleep. Officers neither felt for his pulse nor checked whether he was breathing.
Instead, the officers cracked jokes about waking Timpa up “for school” and about making him waffles and scrambled eggs for breakfast.
“Tony, time for school, wake up!” one officer is heard saying.
“I don’t want to go to school, mom,” another officer responds, mimicking the voice of a child. “Five more minutes, mom.”
When paramedics arrived at the scene, they administered a sedative to Timpa and transferred him to an ambulance.
“He didn’t just die down there, did he?” one officer says as an apparently unconscious Timpa is moved. “Hope I didn’t kill him.”
Paramedics tell the officers that Timpa is not breathing.
“He’s dead,” a paramedic says, pointing to Timpa in the ambulance.
The county’s medical examiner, in ruling Timpa’s death a homicide, said the man died of sudden cardiac arrest caused by the effects of cocaine and the stress of physical restraint.
In 2017, a grand jury indicted Sgt. Kevin Mansell and Officers Danny Vasquez and Dustin Dillard on a misdemeanor charge of deadly conduct, saying they’d “engaged in reckless conduct that placed Timpa in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.”
Prosecutors, however, dismissed the charges in March. All three officers have since returned to active duty.
A lawsuit filed by Timpa’s family against the city of Dallas, claiming the officers used excessive force, hasn’t been resolved.
“He was expecting someone to help him, that’s why he called,” Timpa’s mother Vicki Timpa told CBS-DFW last year. “He wasn’t expecting several police to kill him.”
A Dallas police spokesman told The Washington Post on Wednesday that because of “pending litigation ... we are unable to comment on the actions of the officers.”