Caddo County, OK — The murder of a man was captured on video, the death was ruled a homicide by “manual compression of the neck,” and the person who perpetrated the killing is a free man. After being unable to pay his child support, Darius Robinson was choked to death in a jail cell.
The incident began when Robinson, a father of seven, was arrested in April on a warrant from 2008 for failing to pay child support. While locked in a cage for three days, Robinson suffered what his family called a “manic episode.”
According to the Daily Beast, a video released by the jail to the Robinson family’s attorneys shows him waving around a blanket, tearing up pieces of paper, and writhing on the floor.
When jailers came in to check on him, Robinson appears compliant and non-violent.
As the video begins, officer Michael Allen Smith enters the cell with fellow officer Vicki Lyn Richardson. The situation seems entirely non-combative.
As the officers kick torn up paper into a pile, Robinson takes a seat. When Robinson appears to lean forward, Smith places him in a guillotine choke hold while officer Richardson hits him in the face with pepper spray.
The situation went from entirely peaceful to deadly violent in only seconds, thanks to the unprovoked response from officer Smith.
All Robinson had done was lean forward, and for this action, he was placed in a fatal chokehold and maced.
As the two men roll around on the floor, Robinson struggles for air — but this is futile. Richardson puts Robinson in cuffs as a third officer enters the cell who then puts his foot on Robinson’s back.
The entire time, for more than a minute, Robinson has been unable to breathe.
When Smith finally lets go, it was too late.
An autopsy found his windpipe had been crushed, the hyoid bone supporting his tongue had been fractured, and the surrounding muscles had been hemorrhaging blood, according to the Daily Beast.
Entirely nonchalant, callously ignoring the fact that he’d just killed a man for seemingly no reason, Smith bends over and picks up his hat, putting it back on his head.
For the next few minutes, Richardson attempts to revive Robinson, but it was too late. She put a towel under his head to catch the foam as it poured from Robinson’s mouth and this human being spent his last moments alive convulsing on a jail cell floor.
When paramedics arrived, Smith and Richardson conveniently left out the fact that Smith just crushed this man’s throat.
According to the paramedics’ report, his neck injury was so severe that Caddo County paramedics LaRoyce Fanning and Ryan Warren could not insert a tube less than a half-inch wide down Robinson’s throat to help him breathe. Fanning and Warren tried five times to use the endotracheal tube with no success.
It was only after the failed to intubate Robinson that the paramedics realized what happened.
“If you believed you were justified in using the chokehold, you would have told the paramedics about it,” Robinson family attorney Spencer Bryan told The Daily Beast. “The fact that you wouldn’t disclose what you did to a first responder… it’s beyond conscionable.”
According to the family, Undersheriff Spencer Davis allegedly told Ancio Robinson, Darius Robinson’s brother, that he’d “charged” the officers.
Davis told The Daily Beast on Monday that Robinson’s death was “not what anyone wanted” and that Smith and Richardson are on paid administrative leave pending a grand jury’s decision on the matter and a separate state probe.
Earlier this month, before the video was released, Bryan said, “In my head, I picture (the officers) standing around as the paramedics are struggling to get an airway into him, knowing that they choked him out.”
Weeks later, he’d be proven right. “Again, it’s beyond conscionable,” he said.