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“You’re Gonna Kill Me”: Body-Cam Footage Shows Dallas Police Joking as Mentally Ill Man Dies

He called 911 because he hadn’t taken his medication, was high on cocaine, and needed help.

by Kelly Vinett
Jul 31 2019, 8:16pm

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Tony Timpa, a 32-year-old Dallas man suffering from schizophrenia and depression, pleaded with the cops more than 30 times as he struggled to breathe while they held him down. As he lay dying, the officers joked about waking him up so he could have eggs and waffles for breakfast.

“You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me!” Timpa screamed, according to body camera footage published by the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday.

Timpa dialed 911 the night of August 10, 2016, from the parking lot of a Dallas porn store, according to the Dallas Morning News’ three-year investigation into the case. He said he hadn’t taken his medication, was high on cocaine, and needed help.

When officers from the Dallas Police Department arrived, one of them pinned Timpa face-down on the ground for over 13 minutes. When he fell unconscious, police assumed he’d fallen asleep and didn’t check his pulse, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Twenty minutes after police arrived, Timpa died, according to the Dallas Morning News. An autopsy by the Dallas County Medical Examiner shows that Timpa’s death was the result of using cocaine coupled with “excessive physical restraint.”

The three police officers involved — Dustin Dillard, Kevin Mansell, and Danny Vasquez — were indicted in 2017 on charges of misdemeanor deadly conduct, but the charges against them were dropped in March. They have since returned to active duty.

Before the police arrived, Timpa had already been handcuffed by security guards because he ran into traffic, according to the Dallas Morning News. Once police arrived, they swapped Timpa’s handcuffs for a city-issued pair and zip-tied his legs together, all while pinning him face down, the video shows.

His restraints were a controversial police tactic known as the “prone position,” which can increase the risk for sudden death from asphyxiation. As Timpa fell unconscious, officers discussed whether or not he could breathe but assumed he had fallen asleep and began joking around, the body camera footage shows.

“I don’t wanna go to school, mom,” one of the officers says, according to the video.

“We made breakfast — scrambled eggs — your favorite,” an officer says.

“I hope I didn’t kill him,” Dillard says on the video, as the officers continue to joke around.

It’s unclear when first responders were called to the scene, but they waited at least four minutes to begin CPR, according to the Dallas Morning News. Paramedics also gave Timpa a powerful sedative, the footage shows.

By the time they put his body on the ambulance gurney, Timpa was dead.

First responders cited his “combativeness” as to why they waited so long to attempt to resuscitate him, according to the Dallas Morning News. And the Dallas Fire-Rescue and Dallas Police Department have declined to comment on the first responders’ role in Timpa’s death.

In incident reports, police also called Timpa’s behavior “combative” but said that he hadn’t resisted arrest or threatened any of the officers.

The Dallas Morning News obtained the footage after a federal judge ruled it should be released as part of a lawsuit filed by Timpa’s family accusing the cops of using excessive force. The lawsuit is still ongoing.

Cover image: Screenshot via Dallas Police Department body camera footage obtained by the Dallas Morning News

police brutality
excessive force
Dallas Morning News
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Tony Timpa