Disturbing video emerged of an incident that occurred last year where father of four, Michael Sabbie, died in jail after begging guards for help, according to Huffington Post.
The video catches Sabbie repeatedly saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ in a Texas/Arkansas bi-state jail as five security guards tackle him.
The phrase is an eerie reminder of the Eric Garner case where a Staten Island man died after being held down by police for reportedly selling loose cigarettes. His last words ‘I Can’t Breathe’ became a mantra for Black Lives Matter activists who rallied against his unjustified death.
Sabbie was arrested last July after he got into an argument with his wife, according to the police report obtained by HuffPo. Sabbie’s wife told authorities that he threatened her, leading police to apprehend him for third-degree assault on a household member.
Approximately 12 hours after his arrest, Sabbie informed jail staff that he was having difficulty breathing. A nurse treated him for low level oxygen in his blood. The next day, he was found on the floor of his cell and taken back to the nurses’ station. He was cleared to go back to his cell again. On his walk back he fell on the ground. Nurse Tiffany Venable evaluated him and reported she saw no signs of pneumonia.
With his court appearance that afternoon, a bailiff observed Sabbie was having difficulty breathing and coughing. After the court appearance, he heads back to his jail cell, leaning against a wall for support.
Officer Clint Brown confronted Sabbie, who asked to use a phone, but instead of providing assistance he directed him back to his cell. That’s when Brown claims Sabbie turned ‘aggressively’ toward him, prompting an encounter.
Lt. Nathaniel Johnson pepper sprayed Sabbie in the face as he said ‘I can’t breathe.’ The nurse who treated him earlier evaluated Sabbie after the incident, saying his symptoms were consistent with pepper spray.
Sabbie died in his cell later that night. The death was ruled due to ‘natural causes,’ but the family’s lawyer cites negligence.
“He was treated as if his life did not matter,” the family said in a statement issued through their lawyers. “Most of all they want justice and accountability and to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
“If you just looked at the cause of death, you would think that Michael died of some sort of hypertensive heart condition, and that may be true,” said Erik J. Heipt, one of the attorneys representing the Sabbies. “But if we didn’t have a video, we’d never know that he had been begging for help due to his shortness of breath and inability to breathe. We’d never know that he said ‘I can’t breathe’ 19 times in the nine minutes that we hear in that video.”
The family hopes with this new evidence, the officers involved in the incident will be brought to justice, along with the nurses who reportedly did not administer proper care