Hamlin, TX — An investigation into the death of a 49-year-old Texas man is now underway after he died while in police custody earlier this month. The Free Thought Project was given exclusive video of the tragic last moments of Delbert McNeil’s life as he screamed in agony while police tasered the handcuffed grandfather in the back of their cruiser—until he died.
Hamlin Police Department claim they responded about 1:10 a.m. on December 2 to reports of a “male suspect, possibly under the influence, throwing items in front of a local business.”
While the police claim the caller said the man was throwing things, according to the niece of the woman who called, Tabitha Brown, who is also the victim’s daughter, her aunt called police because she saw a “man walking in the road.” She did not know this man was McNeil.
According to Brown, the responding officer was Hamlin Police Officer Nic Puente—who she says has a history with McNeil and open lawsuits against him for excessive force.
McNeil has a history of mental illness and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In fact, he was once found not guilty by reason of insanity for an altercation he had with police in Odessa, Texas in 2014. McNeil has a fear of police and the Hamlin department knew this, according to the family.
According to a Hamlin police news release, McNeil became “combative and violent and assaulted the officers” when he was located and taken into custody.
“Additional officers were requested along with Emergency Medical Services,” the release said. “The male suspect was agitated and began to fight with the EMS personnel.”
While police claim EMS were at the scene, they are not shown in the video as police were repeatedly tasering McNeil. The family also claims they have no evidence that EMS ever evaluated McNeil and the hospital has refused to give them an answer as to what happened.
Brown tells the Free Thought Project that eyewitnesses saw police drive from the Allsups convenience store where the incident began to the local IGA grocery store thirty minutes later and watched as police “threw a lifeless body on the ground” after he was tasered in the back of the squad car.
“I think they (police) should have contacted MHMR (Mental Health Mental Retardation) first to let them know he was having an episode,” Johnny McNeil, Delbert’s brother said, adding he was “disappointed” with how it was handled.
Debra Adkisson, a neighbor, watched from her front yard as police attacked Delbert.
“He was in the backseat, cuffed. What else could he do?” Adkisson said. “Kind of bewildered because he was a friend. To see this happen right in front of my house and then the next morning to find out that he’s passed.”
Because the video was taken at night, it is grainy. However, Delbert’s agonizing screams can be clearly heard. We can also hear the officer tell McNeil to “knock it off,” as he continues to deploy the taser at least three times on the handcuffed man.
Given his history with fearing police coupled with his mental illness, it is highly likely that McNeil was in a frantic state of mind as police were kidnapping him for no reason.
Remember, he had committed no crime and was simply walking down the road with a flashlight that night when police showed up.
After McNeil’s death, police refused to allow the family to see his body for nearly a week. When they finally did see him, he was badly beaten.
Because of all the inconsistencies in their official narrative, the Hamlin Police Department is now the subject of an official investigation by the Texas Rangers.
“The defendant (McNeil) didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong, but also no one made him do it,” Assistant District Attorney Clay George said during closing arguments of McNeil’s trial in 2014. “In all of this, Mr. McNiel thinks that the officers trying to help him were actually trying to kill him.”
Sadly, in 2017, the officers did kill him.
Tabitha Brown shared the video on her Facebook page this week, with the following statement:
This was my fathers last moments, let me ask y’all if this was your father, how would you feel. Not getting answers from Hamlin PD story’s changing timelines not adding up. And then you finally see your dad 6 days after his death you see how bad he suffered (beaten) and to see this chilling video hearing my daddy scream for his life. That is the last video of my dad and his horrifying last words will forever haunt me.
The Free Thought Project will continue to follow this story and update our readers as new details emerge.