'I Can't Breathe': Black Man Begs For Water Before Death In Police Custody

Photo: Getty Images

Body camera footage shows the moments surrounding a Black man dying in police custody at a Dallas hospital in 2022, per CBS News.

Kenneth Knotts, 41, was driving from Houston to Dallas with a woman and two of his children on November 29, 2022, when his tire blew out in Hutchins, Texas, according to a complaint filed by attorney Geoff Henley. The situation caused Knotts to have a "mental breakdown," his mom said, citing an account from the female passenger.

Police found Knotts holding an infant on top of a vehicle at a convenience store on Interstate 45. Knotts was arrested and taken to UT Southwestern Medical Center for a psych evaluation.

Body camera footage, which was released to the public last week, begins after Knotts attempted to escape the hospital. In the footage, Knotts pleaded for water as multiple officers held him down on a hospital bed.

"I can't breathe," the man said.

At one point during the struggle, Knotts' body went completely still.

"No pulse! No pulse!" medical staff can be heard yelling in the video.

Knotts was later pronounced dead.

Knotts' attorney said he believes the way officers positioned his client during the restraint became lethal.

"When you are prone and handcuffed, you are utterly defenseless and in severe risk of your life because you just cannot breathe,” Henley said.

A medical examiner ruled the manner of his death a homicide.

"Based on the case history…and review of available law enforcement body-worn camera footage, it is my opinion that Kenneth Knotts…died as a result of sudden cardiac arrest associated with physical restraint and semi-prone position,” the medical examiner wrote, per Fox 4.

However, a Dallas County grand jury declined to indict police or medical staff in connection to Knotts' death. His family filed a federal civil lawsuit against the UT System in October 2023, alleging excessive force.

“The guy was in mental distress, clearly he was irrational, but you don’t have to kill them to solve what is absolutely a medical problem," Henley said in a statement.

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