Warning: Content may be disturbing to some readers.
Disturbing footage showing two officers fist-bumping after smothering a man to death has sparked anger, as the victim’s family plans to file a lawsuit over his killing.
Ben Anthony C de Baca, who had a history of mental illness, was experiencing “schizophrenic episodes” because of his new medicine the day he died, according to his family.
C de Baca was in the car with his wife when he allegedly started behaving irrationally, telling her that there were people in the trunk. She tried to calm him down, promising to check the trunk, but suddenly C de Baca tossed his legs into the driver’s side of the car and slammed on the gas pedal, speeding the car into another vehicle.
Next, C de Baca walked to a nearby Bernalillo Wal-Mart, where he started destroying their merchandise.
The workers immediately called 911. Officers, who were quick to arrive on the scene, belonged to three different departments. An officer from the Rio Rancho Police Department responded to a report about C de Baca’s car crash outside a nearby McDonald’s, while officers from the neighboring Bernalillo and Santa Ana police departments responded to the call from inside the Wal-Mart.
In the video footage of C de Baca’s arrest, an officer can be heard saying, “Stand up or we’re going to drag you out, one way or another.”
The officers drag C de Baca, lay him on his stomach in the parking lot and restrain his legs. At one point during the struggle, C de Baca allegedly bit one officer’s leg.
“A f***g bite mark, dude,” the officer is heard telling another on camera.
“This c***t f*ck bit the f**k out of me, dude. I had to punch his a*s off of me.”
Minutes later, they place a spit sock over his head to prevent him from biting again. The spit sock’s cotton covered C de Baca’s face, nose, and mouth.
An officer began questioning him, most likely for an incident report. C de Baca cooperated, giving his name; he can then be heard crying for help repeatedly.
“I can’t breathe,” he says.
“Anthony, what’s your date of birth?” the officer taking the report asks.
“I’m dying,” C de Baca cries.
The officers start cracking jokes, completely ignoring C de Baca’s condition, until one of them realizes he is dead with the spit sock was still over his head.
“Anthony,” one cop said as he pulled at C de Baca’s arm. “Anthony.”
“F**k,” another cop said.
As the paramedics arrive in an attempt to revive C de Baca, two officers can be seen fist-bumping near the body.
According to C de Baca’s lawyer, Ahmed Assed, the officers entirely mismanaged a routine arrest. The family intends to file a lawsuit addressing the officer’s lack of concern about C de Baca’s life but majorly for their apparent lack of training about the spit sock.
Spit socks are meant to prevent individuals from spitting at officers, but are not meant to prevent the person from biting, or to impair their breathing.
The Bernalillo Police Department, which placed the spit sock over C de Baca has not commented on this incident yet.
David Foster, an attorney with New Mexico’s 13th Judicial District told The Daily Beast that the incident is under investigation.