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Lawsuit Alleges NYPD Officers Stood Over Dying Man for 10 Minutes Without Administering CPR

Cops stand around Barrington Williams in a subway station, as the 25-year-old busted for illegally selling MetroCard swipes dies from an asthma attack. Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News.

Cops stand around Barrington Williams in a subway station, as the 25-year-old busted for illegally selling MetroCard swipes dies from an asthma attack. Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News.

A 2013 surveillance video captured at the Yankee Stadium subway station shows the arrest of a 25-year-old New York man as NYPD officers failed to administer CPR when he suffered a severe asthma attack and slipped into cardiac arrest.

According to the New York Daily News, the shocking footage shows city officers standing over Barrington Williams for 10 minutes with no sense of urgency to perform CPR. The New York man ultimately died at a local area hospital.

Williams’ family hired a lawyer last year and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NYPD. The suit, which names officers Joel Guach, Agenol Ramos and Robert O’Brien as defendants, alleges the 25-year-old victim endured excessive force at the hands of police and was denied medical care.

“For 10 minutes the officers were indifferent and apathetic to Barrington’s life, and those 10 minutes can be the difference between life and death,” said lawyer Jason Leventhal, who is representing the Williams family.

Williams was arrested on Sept. 27, 2013 after he was caught illegally selling MetroCard swipes, the New York Daily News reports. Subway surveillance video shows officers handcuffing Williams at 1:57 p.m. and a fire department medic administering chest compressions at 2:15 p.m. In between those times, Williams appears to be unconscious.

Williams’ mother, Karen Brown, told the New York Daily News her son developed asthma at the age of 12; his condition became progressively worse over time.

“I don’t believe he should have died for a MetroCard swipe,” Brown said.

An investigation of the incident by the Internal Affairs Bureau confirmed that Williams led city officers on a foot chase through the subway station that day. He was subsequently tackled and handcuffed. Following his arrest, Williams informed officers that he suffered from asthma, the IAB report states. He then began foaming at the mouth, urinated on himself and passed out.

“An ambulance was called as Williams went into cardiac arrest,” the report confirms. It also states that an NYPD lieutenant recalls that Williams “appeared to be conscious” as medical professionals administered CPR to him.

At one point, surveillance video shows an officer attempting to put a rescue inhaler near Williams’ mouth. He was still unconscious, however. Cops then rummaged through Williams’ pockets and tried to place him in an upright position as they waited for the EMT to arrive.

“I think the officers realized very quickly that they were dealing with a man who was in severe respiratory distress,” Leventhal said. “The video doesn’t show any sense of urgency.”

According to the New York Daily News, medics performed more advanced CPR after Williams’ handcuffs were removed at 2:13 p.m. Unfortunately, he was later pronounced dead at Lincoln Medical Center.

Despite video evidence, the IAB concluded there was no excessive force on the part of NYPD officers. The Bronx district attorney’s office also failed to find any wrongdoing or criminality in Williams’ death, the New York Daily News reports. Per the NYPD Patrol Guide, officers are only required to render reasonable aid to a sick or injured person. There’s no rule stating that cops must administer CPR or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“While the video is one piece of evidence, there is other information to be gathered and reviewed, and it would be premature to reach any conclusion about what occurred in this case,” city Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci explained.

Family attorney Leventhal  compares Williams’ case to two other high-profile incidents involving Black men dying at the hands of police. He cites the case of Eric Garner, the Long Island man who died as a result of asthma and a police choke hold. The accused officer’s acquittal sparked outrage and the war cry “I Can’t Breathe,” which Garner was heard struggling to say in the video of the fatal incident.

Leventhal also points out that Peter Liang, the police officer who fatally shot Akai Gurley in a dark stairwell in 2014, was convicted of manslaughter and misconduct for failing to administer CPR or call for medical help. Liang’s CPR instructor was also stripped of her badge and gun for improperly training the officer on the life-saving technique, the New York Daily News reports.

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