But the three or four officers piling on top of Minjarez – not allowing him enough air to breath – did not listen.
And when emergency services finally showed up to take Minjarez away he had “blue ears and was not breathing initially.”
He died five days later after being declared brain dead in an intensive care unit. The incident was captured on surveillance video as well as dash cam audio.
Carencro police and Lafayette Parish deputies were called to a gas station in Louisiana on March 2, 2014 because Minjarez appeared “mentally agitated.”
When the police first arrived and attempted to arrest Minjarez, he lifted his arms in the air but did not turn around and refused to obey further orders. For his refusal to comply, Minjarez was brought to the ground and suffocated with multiple officers piling on top of him, pressing his face into the ground and cuffing his hands and legs.
On the dashcam audio, Minjarez is heard screaming, “Help, help. Help me. Get off. You’re going to kill me….You’re going to suffocate…I can’t breathe.” According to the Lafayette Parish coroner’s report Minjarez’s voice became “increasingly muffled, hoarse and strained,” as he begged the four officers for his life.
But after five minutes of this treatment, one officer said, “You got 265 pounds on your back, you’re not going anywhere.”
The coroner’s report listed the cause of Minjarez’s death as “compressional asphyxia due to face-down physical restraint by law enforcement officers with contribution of rhabdomyolysis and cocaine toxicity.”
“I read to the part where he begged for his life and I just lost it,” said Minjarez’s mother Catherine Cortez, who had been told for months by police reports that her son had died from drug-induced brain damage. “It was like he died twice.”
Minjarez died a terrible death, and the grand jury’s failure to indict the officers involved speaks volumes on the acceptance of the apparent new police mantra “comply or die.” If the grand jury had been made of people that still believe in “Serve and Protect,” the officers that choked Minjarez for five minutes would be headed for a murder trial.