Bodycams were first introduced to the U.S. in 2013, but the take-up was slow. The cams were implemented across America in 2014 following eighteen-year-old Michael Brown’s shooting. It seemed that police had taken an important step towards transparency back then. Whatever happened while on duty would be recorded with the introduction of the bodycam. Everybody would be safer.
Unfortunately, it is never that simple. Take Tony Timpa’s case, for example.
Timpa died nearly fourteen minutes after being pinned to the ground by Dallas officers. His family have never stopped asking for the footage from that night since his death in August 2016. Despite officers wearing bodycams, bodycam recordings would not be released by the Dallas Police Department.
However, on Monday, July 29, 2019, a federal judge ruled in favor of releasing the footage following a motion by Dallas News and NBC5. The footage reveals the troubling truth about what happened to Tony Timpa.
My concerns about police conspiracy are further fuelled by this week’s news that federal task forces have banned bodycams. This blatant rejection of transparent policing has led the Atlanta Police Department to pull out of working with feds in a bid to maintain transparency.
With racial discrimination and rising prejudice, and ICE rounding innocent people up left, right, and center, it’s vital that our officers wear bodycams.
Tony Timpa was killed after calling for help from the authorities.
The thirty-two-year-old had called for help from the authorities in Dallas. He told them he was off his medication, which he took for schizophrenia and anxiety, and that he needed someone to come and get him.
He told dispatchers he was afraid.
Timpa called 911 from a parking lot in Dallas on the night of August 10, 2016. He called 911 to get help ; they did the opposite.
Tony Tempa died within twenty minutes of the officers arriving on the scene.
His mom, Vicki, said to Dallas CBS: “He was expecting someone to help him, that’s why he called [ 911 ]. He didn’t expect him to be killed by several police.”
The death of Tony Timpa was recorded as a homicide.
His death was the consequence of a sudden cardiac arrest, according to Timpa’s autopsy. The cause of his heart failing to pump blood around his body was held to be “the toxic effects of cocaine and the stress connected with physical restraint.”
In 2017, the officers involved were brought before a grand jury on charges of lethal conduct of misdemeanor.
The grand jury’s indictment indicated that “policemen involved in reckless behavior that put Timpa in the imminent risk of severe bodily injury.”
Tony’s mother has fought tirelessly for the truth.
Here, two weeks after Tony’s death, we can see a copy of the open records police form filled out by Vicki Tempa. She wouldn’t receive the information she wanted for three years.
The charges against the officers have been dropped.
Dallas District Attorney, John Creuzot, dismissed the charges. Speaking to Dallas News, Creuzot explained that he had met with the medical examiners and they all said that they did not believe that the officers had “acted recklessly.”
The medical examiner refused to testify.
As long as local DAs — like @Dallas_DA John Creuzot — and Attorneys General continue condoning bullethead, roid-raging, sadist cops summarily executing citizens, then bullethead, roid-raging, sadist cops will continue executing citizens.#TonyTimpa #JusticeForTonyTimpa
— 😐 (@25thAmendTrump) July 31, 2019
At the time, in March 2017, Creuzot said that the medical examiners “can not testify to the elements of the indictment beyond reasonable doubt,” suggesting that the cause of death was not the fault of the duty officers.
So why don’t they release the footage? This question was playing on the minds of both Tony’s family and the local news stations.
Something was hiding from the Dallas Police Department.
Disturbing and disgusting behavior by a bunch of frat boys with guns and badges. What exactly is the criteria to become a Dallas police officer ? I feel for any one in need who has these guys show up. They should be fired ! and prosecuted.#JusticeForTonyTimpa
— #JustAnotherBernieBabe 🌹 (@joanna_alicea) August 2, 2019
From documents obtained by Dallas Morning News and NBC5, they knew that the officers had pinned Tony down for nearly fourteen minutes and he had said: “Don’t hurt me,” but the officers claimed that Tony was aggressive and they were struggling to assess him because of his “combativeness.”
We finally have the truth with the release of the footage …
Now that the charges against officers have been dropped, it is a case of too little too late. The incriminating evidence shows exactly why the Dallas Police Department did not want to release the footage while the investigation was being conducted.
The officers in question clearly acted in a way that was not only unprofessional, but brutally cruel.
People wonder why those with Mental Illness don’t want to reach out or call for help, here is why. #JusticeForTony
— Journey of Faith (@treppab) August 1, 2019
The recordings prove exactly why so many mentally unwell people are not seeking help or placing their trust in the authorities.
Here’s what really happened …
The three officers on the scene, Kevin Mansell, Danny Vasquez, and Dustin Dillard used aggressive force to handcuff and pin Tony Timpa to the ground, despite clearly causing distress in doing so.
The “prone position” that is deadly.
Tony Timpa was not a threat & didn’t need to be restrained aggressively. But even AFTER he stops moving, the cop does not remove his knee from his back in the prone position. This man’s death was slow and painful. His ears were blue. Not once did they stop to release pressure.
— A.J. (@Trust_Progress) August 1, 2019
The footage clearly shows Dillard putting Timpa in the prone position, a means of restraint that is highly controversial due to the risk it poses.
The restraint involves having the assailant’s limbs zip-tied along with the officer kneeling on their back.
Several studies have been carried out on the prone position, deciding that it should not be carried out as it can cause asphyxiation and sudden death.
The recordings show that Tony did not pose a threat to the officers.
When the officers arrived at the scene, a private security guard had already handcuffed Tony and not once threatened to injure anyone.
“You’re going to kill me.”
Tony repeatedly cried this out as the officers pinned him down before he fell silent. The officers “assumed” that he had fallen asleep, failing to check his pulse or making sure he was breathing.
With Tony’s face pressed to the ground, he was mocked by the officers.
The horrific footage shows the officers laughing at the expense of Tony, saying, “It’s time for school. Wake up!”Another officer replying,” I don’t want to go to school! Five minutes more, Mom!”Then they joke to make him a special waffle breakfast. The whole thing is highly inappropriate and is clearly a very negligent response to an unconscious citizen.
“He didn’t just die there, did he?”
No justice, no peace. The officers involved in the death of #TonyTimpa should be fired and charged with murder.
— Scott (@UPTscottie) August 1, 2019
By the time Timpa was eventually lifted onto a gurney to be put in an ambulance, he was already dead. In the recording, the officers can be heard saying “he didn’t just die down there, did he?” And I hope I didn’t kill him.
The attorney for the Timpa family is adamant that there was no reason to use restraint for that long.
In a statement given to CBS Dallas, the family’s attorney, Geoff Henley, said: “Tony Timpa shouldn’t have died that night. He called 911 and called 911 hoping to go back to some hospital facility. Tony Timpa needed help, he didn’t have to go to the morgue.
Warning: frightening content ahead.
Here you can watch the bodycam footage and judge the situation for yourself.