Family members of a Black man killed by police last year are seeking justice, reportedly filing a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit.
On Dec. 10, 2021, Terrence Caffey was involved in an altercation with employees at the Movie Tavern in Little Rock, Arkansas, while on a date. After Caffey expressed concerns about his food order, police were called to the scene to escort him out of the theater, including Capt. Mark Swagerty, an off-duty deputy working security at the theater.
TBH 11 reported that attorney Ben Crump picked up the case after the Pulaski County prosecutor ruled the involved officers would not face criminal charges.
According to body camera footage obtained by Crump’s team, new angles of officers were shown carrying Caffey out of the theater before putting their hands on his neck and kneeling on his back. Crump and the family claim that the video evidence shows the officers used excessive force and disregarded Caffey, informing them he could not breathe.
“When you hear a man who is unarmed, handcuffed, in a prone position, saying ‘I can’t breathe’, what do you do? You put your knee in his back even further? Why didn’t it go to a grand jury?” Crump said during a news conference at Allison Memorial Presbyterian Church.
According to Arkansas Online, lawyers for the family asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the actions of the police.
In a letter to Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins on Sept. 16, prosecuting attorney Larry Jegley mentioned that Caffey’s died of “sickle cell trait-related sickling crisis during exertion, struggle and restraint,” according to a medical examiner’s opinion. The death was reportedly ruled a homicide; however, the coroner noted that it did not imply criminal wrongdoing.
“We came here for y’all to see that this was just flat-out murder,” said Nigel Caffey, Terence Caffey’s uncle. “No other way to put it.”
According to the outlet, police accused Caffey of acting erratically and fighting with the cinema’s employees.
The family alleged that the involved officers were driven by racial prejudice in their treatment of Caffey.