Britain’s ‘I can’t breathe moment’: Police force refers itself to watchdog after family of black man, 35, release video of six officers pinning him down as he cried for help during arrest – 10 months before his death in cell
- Simeon Francis, 35, was detained in July but video has only just emerged
- He died ten months later after being found unresponsive in custody
- Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating both video and death
- Mr Francis’s family allege that the video shows excessive force
A POLICE force has asked its own watchdog to investigate them over a horror video of a man shouting he could not breathe as they detained him.
Devon and Cornwall police forwarded a complaint from 35-year-old Simeon Francis’s family to the Independent Office for Police Conduct this week.
The footage shows the arrest last year and Mr Francis died ten months later when he was found unresponsive in the custody suite in Torquay, in Devon, last month. The IOPC is already investigating his death.
His family released the video on Thursday and say that it shows excessive force.
A video (not pictured) showed Simeon Francis screaming ‘I can’t breathe’ as he was arrested by Devon and Cornwall Police officers
Footage shows Mr Francis is pushed against a wall by officers and taken to the ground. At one point he is heard telling them ‘I can’t breathe’ and later appears to shout ‘You’ve got my throat’. Francis, who is black, accuses the police officers during the arrest of being racist.
Around 10 officers are involved, with three holding him down first.
Then an officer’s knee appears to be pressed into Mr Francis’ back. An onlooker asks: ‘Do you really need that many officers on him?’
The video has emerged just weeks after the death of George Floyd in America, where he shouted ‘I can’t breathe’ after being restrained by police.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is looking into the death of Simeon Francis, 35, who was found unresponsive in his cell. This is is his police mugshot.
He sparked a huge Black Lives Matter movement that is still campaigning around the world in marches and protests.
Speaking of Mr Francis’s death, Birmingham community activist Desmond Jaddoo, who is assisting the family and acting as their spokesman, said they had told the police they believed excessive force was used in the 2019 arrest.
Jaddoo told The Guardian: ‘This video raises concerns of the actual treatment of Mr Francis by Devon and Cornwall police. It has caused his family further and extreme distress during this difficult time.’
Mr Francis died in a custody suite in Torquay Police station
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall police said: ‘The video of Simeon Francis being arrested relates to a recall to prison for Mr Francis in July 2019.
‘The force has received a complaint in respect of the video on 17 June 2020. The complaint will now be assessed and is subject to a voluntary referral to the IOPC. The force has received no complaint in relation to the arrest prior to this point.
‘The independent IOPC investigation relating to the death of Simeon Francis in police custody on 20 May 2020 remains ongoing and Devon and Cornwall police continue to co-operate fully with that investigation.’
No officers have been disciplined over either the 2019 arrest or Francis’s death.