It was the usual protocol for “officer safety” where a group of well-armed cops wearing tactical gloves and probably body armor forced a man down on his stomach to allow them to pile on top of him with their full body weight in order to restrain him.
With their knees driving into his back and their hands shoving his face into the ground, the man’s muffled cries became fainter as a female cop ordered him to “stop resisting” and “relax” and a male cop assured him that everything will be ok.
But Roy Lee Nelson Jr. ended up dying moments later after the Hayward police officers placed him in a WRAP restraining device, which allows officers to wrap people like mummies in the name of officer safety.
“I can’t breathe,” were Nelson’s last coherent words before he died on December 19, 2015.
Last month, after years of refusing to release the body cam videos, the Hayward Police Department released body cam videos from that night as part of the pending federal lawsuit against the department.
“This is the West Coast Eric Garner case,” Nelson’s civil rights attorney, Adante Pointer of the John Burris Law Firm, told KTVU, which obtained the videos. Eric Garner also died after telling a group of NYPD cops he could not breathe.
The man, Roy Lee Nelson Jr., had called 911 earlier in the evening asking for emergency medical help because he was having a mental health crisis related to the schizophrenia he suffered from, according to the lawsuit filed in December 2016.
But instead of an ambulance responding, Hayward police arrived and placed the 42-year-old man in handcuffs, ordering him into the back of their car where he went willingly.
However, instead of transporting him to the hospital less than two miles away, they ended up killing him in a parking lot.
Nelson, after all, was 6-foot, 350-pound black man, the kind that strikes fear in the hearts of highly trained officers.
The four officers involved, Michelle Hall, Nathanael Shannon, Matthew McCrea and John Padavana, were cleared of all wrongdoing by internal affairs but were never investigated by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
But a judge in April ruled that the lawsuit, which can be read here, can proceed against the City of Hayward.
The full unedited video is below, the shortened edited video is above.