CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man shackled to a floor while in police custody did not get help from police officers who watched him swallow cocaine, beg for water, and tell them he couldn’t breathe, according to a lawsuit filed by the man’s sister.
Andrell Mackey filed the lawsuit Thursday in Mecklenburg County Superior Court, The Charlotte Observer reported. Mackey’s brother, Harold Easter, 41, died on Jan. 26, 2020, three days after his arrest and detainment in a police station.
Named in the lawsuit are five former officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the city of Charlotte. The city is responsible, in part because it is responsible for ensuring officers are adequately trained, the lawsuit said.
Mackey’s lawsuit seeks “more than $25,000” in damages, which is the minimum amount required for such civil lawsuits to be filed and considered in court.
The four officers and a sergeant were cited for termination by Police Chief Johnny Jennings for not following the policy of seeking medical assistance for Easter, and all five resigned from the force, according to reports.
The resignations came just two days ahead of the release of police video footage showing Easter shackled to the floor of the CMPD interview room, alone, as he suffered heart issues and seizures.
At a police substation, Easter was strip-searched, shackled to the floor, and left unattended for at least 20 minutes as he began having life-threatening health issues. The officers failed to take Easter to the hospital or give him medical aid until he had what appeared to be a seizure and lost consciousness inside a police interview room, according to police documents and Alex Heroy, the lawyer representing Easter’s family in the wrongful-death lawsuit.
Documents released by CMPD later in 2020 revealed the officers knew Easter put drugs in his mouth, which Easter admitted to during his arrest.
Also in September 2020, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather described Easter’s death as an “abject failure” on police procedures. But Merriweather said he lacked proof that a crime occurred and the officers would not be criminally charged for involuntary manslaughter.