‘I Can’t Breathe’ Lawsuit Launched Two Years After Black Man Dies in Police Custody
When 23-year-old Darren Boykin died in police custody two years ago, it didn’t make national headlines like the deaths of George Floyd or Eric Garner. But Boykin’s family has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure his death wasn’t in vain.
On Sunday, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Texarkana, Texas, on behalf of Boykin’s mother, Keisha Boykin, Arkansas Online reports. The complaint seeks actual and punitive damages, compensation for Darren Boykin’s pain, suffering, and mental anguish, compensation for his mother’s mental anguish and emotional distress, and reimbursement for funeral expenses and attorney fees.
The lawsuit calls out Texarkana officers Jerrika Weaver, Brent Hobbs, and Sgt. William Scott and accuses them of violating Boykin’s civil rights by being “deliberately indifferent” to a medical crisis that resulted in his death, as revealed by the Washington Post.
Around 2 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2019, police approached Darren Boykin as a suspect in a series of petty theft crimes on a nearby community college campus. That’s when Boykin pushed past the officers and attempted to flee on foot, police said.
After running to a nearby convenience store, Boykin was detained. Weaver’s bodycam shows Boykin handcuffed on the ground with his hands behind his back and breathing heavily. A civilian eyewitness can be heard in the background saying, “I thought he was having a heart attack.” However, a Texarkana College officer claimed Boykin had “felonies, that’s what it is.”
Officers then had to carry Boykin to the police car after he said he could not walk on his own. The officers inform him that he has a warrant in Ohio for theft before one officer is offered water while Boykin was not.
One officer responded to Boykin yelling for help in the police car. Hobbs opened the door, and Boykin said, “I can’t breathe.” When Hobbs informs Weaver that Boykin is complaining about not being able to breathe, Weaver responds, “He’ll be fine.”
You can’t call ‘I can’t breathe’ after you ran forever and then you have felonies,” Weaver can be heard saying in the video.
In the suit, Weaver is accused of showing a “clear disregard” for Boykin’s health.
“Being the sergeant and supervisor on scene, defendant Scott had the ability to call for medical assistance or direct defendant Hobbs or defendant Weaver to call for medical assistance for Darren,” the complaint states.
Lawyers Scott Palmer and James Roberts filed the lawsuit on behalf of Keisha Boykin and Darren Boykin’s estate in U.S. District Court in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas. The suit accuses the officers of violating Boykins’ civil rights from a lack of medical attention and claims the three officers breached their duty to provide it.