West Baton Rouge, LA — Ervin Leon Edwards, 38, died face down in a jail cell after a half-dozen officers held him down and tasered him, then left him for dead.
His crime? Police were questioning him about an argument with his girlfriend and then began harassing him over his “sagging pants,” according to the lawsuit. He was arrested moments later and brought to the West Baton Rouge jail.
As Edwards was being arrested, for seemingly no reason, he began to voice his discontent. Nonetheless, officers still managed to restrain him and bring him to jail.
During the arrest, police threatened to taser Edwards at which point his girlfriend begged them not to because of Edward’s high blood pressure, according to the lawsuit.
What happens next can only be described as gross criminal negligence on behalf of Port Allen Police.
This incident happened in November of 2013, but video of the incident has only recently been released to the public. What it shows is disturbing.
The video starts as Edwards is dragged into an isolation cell by a half-dozen officers. He appears to have his hands restrained behind his back at this time.
As police were apparently attempting to restrain him further, Edwards can be seen struggling. However, at no point, does he appear to pose a threat to the myriad of cop boots on and around his body.
At this point, we can see that one officer applies his taser to the buttocks of Edwards, and the man goes completely limp.
Instead of checking on the man, who is now obviously unconscious, the officers slowly backed away from the body and left the cell. One officer is seen pulling the pants from Edwards limp body before closing the door.
Several minutes pass before anyone even looks into the isolation cell, Edwards never moved.
More time passes; a second person looks into the cell, says nothing. Edwards body remains in the same position.
A third glance into the cell finally results in officers checking on Edwards. Unfortunately, any emergency life-saving techniques at this point were futile.
“The fact that the subject appeared unresponsive, perhaps unconscious on the floor as the officers withdrew from the cell, should have resulted in an immediate request for medical intervention and a quick determination of whether there was a pulse or breathing,” said Greg Meyer, who retired several years ago as a captain with the Los Angeles Police Department and is recognized nationally as a use of force expert. “If not, CPR should have been started immediately.”
The cause of death was classified as “undetermined” by death investigators. “Acute cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP) intoxication in association with restraint by law enforcement,” was listed on his autopsy report.
After the incident in 2013, an internal review was conducted surrounding the events of Edwards’ death. Predictably, the officers found themselves to have committed no wrongdoing.
According to The Advocate, the Sheriff’s Office has since turned over the findings of its investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Edwards’ only son has since filed a wrongful death suit in federal court.