New Mexico cops from three agencies were smothering a mentally ill handcuffed man with their body weight as he repeatedly told them he could not breathe, only for them to keep asking for his date of birth, never once acknowledging they could possibly be killing him.
“I’m dying,” Anthony C de Baca groaned, but the cops ignored him as they made small talk while planting their knees on his back and forcing his handcuffed hands down into his wrists in a pain compliance tactic known as the wristlock.
They had also placed a “spit sock” over his face because they say he had bitten one of them. But they placed it in a way that could have caused him to suffocate, a medical examiner determined.
And when he groaned in pain and told them he was dying, they only pressed down on him harder and shackled his legs, telling him to “relax.”
And then he went quiet.
But that did not stop the cops from continuing to exert their pain compliance techniques on him– all while joking about penises.
They are still laughing and smothering when one of them notices the masked, handcuffed man is no longer breathing.
In fact, several minutes went by after he stopped groaning in pain, but they didn’t think anything of that until much later.
“Anthony …. Anthony ….. Anthony” a cop asks as he lightly shakes the lifeless body lying flat on its face, hands cuffed behind its back.
Anthony does not respond.
“Fuck,” a cop says.
Within minutes, they are tearing the man’s shirt off and trying to resuscitate him, but it was too late.
The September 6, 2015 death was ruled a homicide from “excited delirium (cocaine intoxication) complicated by means of physical restraint.”
Rio Rancho police investigated but found no wrongdoing among its officers as well as officers from the Santa Ana and Bernalillo police departments from the Albuquerque area.
And even though it’s been almost a year, the Sandoval County District Attorney’s Office says it is still investigating the incident for possible criminal charges.
C de Baca had a history of mental illness, his wife said, according to a police report. Doctors had recently changed his medication, and he had been “acting very paranoid all week,” she said. On the day of his death, his wife said he had experienced “schizophrenic episodes,” which came to a head at a McDonald’s.
While waiting in the drive-through line, C de Baca began acting irrationally, telling his wife that there were people in the trunk. She humored him, promising to check the trunk, at which point he flung his legs into the driver’s side of the car and slammed on the gas, sending the car speeding into another vehicle.
C de Baca then fled on foot to a nearby Wal-Mart, where he began throwing soda and smashing televisions. He shouted, “‘You are all murderers, you killed my kid’ and other things that didn’t make sense,” a Wal-Mart employee told police.
At one point during the struggle, C de Baca bit an officer on the leg through his pants.
“A fucking bite mark, dude,” he yells. “This cunt fuck bit the fuck out of me, dude. I had to punch his ass off of me.”
They are still talking about the bite mark after C de Baca stops breathing.
“I can’t breathe,” he said.
“Anthony, what’s your date of birth?” the officer taking the report called.
“I can’t breathe,” C de Baca repeated.
“What’s your date of birth?” the officer asked again. His colleagues continued placing pressure on C de Baca’s back, pinning his cuffed hands behind him.
“I’m dying,” C de Baca pleads. No one appears to listen. The conversation returns to the bite mark on one of the officer’s pant legs.
“He hit bone?” an officer asked, alluding to the other cop’s penis.
“Always with the jokes,” the bitten officer said, confirming that the bite didn’t break the skin.
The man’s family says it will be filing a lawsuit soon, according to a family attorney who spoke to the Daily Beast.
“I’m really more concerned about why they hogtied him, dragged him out, placed him face down with three guys kneeing him in the back,” Assed said. “A guy is screaming for his life saying he can’t breathe and that he’s hurting, and then they claimed to put a spit sock on him for what reason I have no idea, because it doesn’t prevent anything.”
The spit sock was mesh, with a “thick cotton portion,” a sergeant reported during an investigation into C de Baca’s death. During C de Baca’s arrest, the spit sock’s cotton had covered C de Baca’s “face, nose, and mouth,” while the mesh bunched up around his forehead, the sergeant told investigators, adding that “he had not seen a spit sock used in that fashion before.”
An independent report by the New Mexico Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that an “improperly placed” spit sock has the potential to suffocate a person. The examiner wrote that they could not rule out suffocation as a contributing cause in C de Baca’s death.
“They used it in a different fashion than in the training I hope they received,” Assed said. “I doubt they received any training. If there was training, it certainly wasn’t consistent with how they used it.”
Below, is a short video we edited to give you a quick view of what took place.