Handcuffed and pinned to the ground on the side of the road, Tony Timpa begged Dallas police officers more than two dozen times for help before he fell unconscious and died, according to newly released body-camera footage.
“You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me!” he continuously yelled.
In the footage, officers can be heard mocking the 32-year-old Dallas man—who called authorities for help in 2016 after taking drugs and forgetting his schizophrenia medication—for several minutes. When cops finally loaded him into an ambulance, he was already dead.
“You will see how long it is that it takes for them to realize he’s not doing anything,” Geoff Henley, Timpa’s family attorney, said Wednesday.
The body-camera footage, first obtained Tuesday by The Dallas Morning News, reveals the gut-wrenching minutes leading up to Timpa’s August 2016 death while in police custody. The officers involved were initially indicted in 2017 for misdemeanor deadly conduct, but prosecutors dismissed all charges against them two years later, saying all three men did not act “recklessly.”
On August 10, 2016, Timpa called police from an adult video store parking lot about 10 minutes outside of Dallas for help, saying he was off of his prescription schizophrenia medication and high on cocaine. Before Dallas police arrived, Timpa was handcuffed by security guards for attempting to run into traffic.
According to police reports, Timpa’s “aggressive and combative” behavior forced officers to keep him restrained. The video shows Timpa pleading for help and clearly struggling as he’s held down by police.
One of the officers can be seen pinning Timpa face-down on the ground with his knee in his back in what’s called the “prone position,” a restraining technique that’s highly controversial.
In the first minute of the footage, Timpa wiggles around near the curb while struggling to sit up. Police claimed that officers were forced to restrain Timpa with his stomach to the ground in order to stop him from escaping and running into a busy intersection. But about a minute later, a police car can be seen blocking traffic near the bus bench where the officers had pinned him.
“Please let me go, please,” Timpa cries repeatedly.
Still restrained by his hands and feet, the 32-year-old becomes unresponsive after several minutes of pleading. At this point, officers in the video can be heard laughing and mocking Timpa, one even noting that he is “out cold.” His nose is buried in the grass when officers claim to hear him snoring—apparently unaware that the unarmed man is drawing his last breaths.
“Tony, are you still with us?” one officer asks, before another questions whether Timpa is still breathing.
When Timpa snorts, the first responders begin joking that he fell asleep.
“It’s time for school. Wake up!” another cop says, earning laughs from the group.
Mimicking a whiny teenager, another officer responds: “I don’t want to go to school! Five more minutes, Mom!”
In the video, paramedics don’t begin CPR until at least four minutes after Timpa loses consciousness.
“He didn’t just die down there did he?” an officer asks while Timpa is being loaded onto a gurney and put into an ambulance. “I hope I didn’t kill him.”
Before the body cam is shut off, one officer turns to someone and says: “Sorry. We tried.”
A spokesperson for the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to The Daily Beast that Timpa died from a sudden cardiac arrest due to “the toxic effects of cocaine and the stress associated with physical restraint” for over 13 minutes. According to the spokesperson, Timpa died within 20 minutes of police arriving and at least 15 minutes before he was transported to Parkland hospital.
Timpa’s death was ruled a homicide.
The three Dallas police officers heard in the video—Kevin Mansell, Danny Vasquez, and Dustin Dillard—were indicted by a grand jury in 2017 on misdemeanor deadly conduct charges. According to internal affairs records obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Mansell and Vasquez were placed on administrative leave in December 2017, while Dillard was placed on leave a year later.
In 2019, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot dismissed the charges, saying that all three medical examiners who testified before the grand jury had indicated the officers did not act “recklessly.”
The Dallas County District Attorney’s office and the Dallas Police Department did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
On Monday evening, a federal judge ruled in favor of the newspaper’s request, stating “the public has a compelling interest in understanding what truly took place during a fatal exchange between a citizen and law enforcement.”