IMAGES have been released of a man pleading with police officers ‘I can’t breathe’ — months before he died in custody following a separate arrest.
The family of Simeon Francis (pictured) have accused Devon and Cornwall Police of using excessive force after the video emerged of him being restrained as he is arrested for a recall to jail last July.
Mr Francis, 35, can be heard in the clip calling out that he cannot breathe — the words used by George Floyd, who died after being knelt on by a policeman in Minneapolis in May, sparking global Black Lives Matter protests.
He is also heard to shout ‘you’ve got my throat’. Around ten officers are involved, with three holding him down. One officer appears to press his knee into Mr Francis’s back as an onlooker asks: ‘Do you really need that many officers on him?’
Ten months later the father-of-one was arrested again and died in Torquay police station.
Family spokesman Bishop Desmond Jaddoo said the video, filmed in Exeter, has caused them ‘further and extreme distress during this difficult time’.
Dr Jaddoo has made a formal complaint to Ch Con Shaun Sawyer of racial discrimination, use of excessive force and intimidation.
Police said they have referred the video to watchdog the IOPC. Mr Francis was found unresponsive in a custody suite on May 21. A preliminary post-mortem examination was unable to identify a cause of death and further tests are being carried out.