Saturday, 10 April 2021

'I can't breathe!' Bodycam footage shows Ohio cop shoving handcuffed suspect's face into snow and shoveling handfuls of ice into his mouth until he chokes

 New bodycam footage shows a cop shoving snow into the mouth of a handcuffed suspect as he lay on the ground who told officer's he 'can't breathe'.

An investigation was launched into Officer John Turnure, of Akron, Ohio, who chose to resign on March 31 following the February 7 incident. 

The new bodycam footage begins with several officers surrounding the front door of Charles Hicks, 26, early in the morning around 2am. 

Officers responded to the scene after a woman called 911, claiming Hicks threatened her with a knife and was worried about the safety of her children. 

In the footage, Hicks is standing on the front porch, where he accuses the police officers of being disrespectful.


Newly released bodycam footage shows Charles Hicks' being shoved into the snowy ground by the Akron police on February 7, where one officer proceeds to shovel snow in his mouth

Newly released bodycam footage shows Charles Hicks' being shoved into the snowy ground by the Akron police on February 7, where one officer proceeds to shovel snow in his mouth

He also repeatedly says that he's not '13,' taken to mean that he wasn't under arrest, though Caprez says he was under arrest at that point and officers were trying to cuff him.


As officers move in, Hicks threatens to call the police on the police if the responding officers touch him.

He also told officers to tell his son that they killed him, should Hicks die from the encounter.

Eventually, the officers force the shirtless Hicks on to the ground in front of the porch, which is covered in winter snow.

Hicks is held face-down in the snow at that point and appears to be restrained by one of the officers as another begins shoving snow into Hicks' mouth.

Over the course of the next moments, Turnure shoves snow into Hicks' mouth at least three times.

Hicks expresses that he 'can't breathe' several times after the snow shoves, while also apologizing to officers.

Hicks was standing shirtless on the front porch of a home when police officers arrived

Hicks was standing shirtless on the front porch of a home when police officers arrived

Officers hold Hicks' face down into the snow

Officers hold Hicks' face down into the snow  

Once Hicks is on the ground, at least one officer holds him down while another picks up snow

Once Hicks is on the ground, at least one officer holds him down while another picks up snow

'I really can't breathe,' Hicks says at one point in a chilling echo of George Floyd's last words before his death at the hands of a police officer.  

Officers then roll Hicks back over and help him stand up before leading him away, which is where the bodycam footage ends.

Caprez says multiple officers were needed to pin him to the ground and double cuff Hicks because of his 'level of fitness.'

Hicks allegedly bled from the handcuffs being too tight around his wrists, only having them loosened later when an officer noticed the blood.

The police report claims Hicks resisted arrest and refused to cooperate with the police officers. 

The release of the bodycam footage comes amid a heightening debate about policing in the United States, with the trial of Derek Chauvin ongoing in Minnesota. 

In a press conference Thursday, Acting Chief Mike Caprez insisted they had a duty to protect the domestic violence victim but admitted they had 'disrespected' the suspect and that choking him with snow was neither taught nor encouraged. 

Pictured: Officer John Turnure (left) back in 2016 after his heroic CPR save
Pictured: Charles Hicks, while sitting in on an interview with his lawyer on Wednesday

Officer John Turnure (left)  resigned during the investigation into him pushing snow into Charles Hicks's (right) mouth

During the video, Hicks says 'I can't breathe' while the arrest is taking place. His hands were already cuffed behind his back

During the video, Hicks says 'I can't breathe' while the arrest is taking place. His hands were already cuffed behind his back 

After Hicks said he couldn't breathe, officers helped him to his feet and led him away

After Hicks said he couldn't breathe, officers helped him to his feet and led him away

Caprez said that shoving snow in the mouth of a criminal is 'not taught or trained by our staff,' which is why an investigation was launched.

'We disrespected a citizen, and for that, I apologize,' Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said in response to the video.

According to cleveland.com, a news release earlier in the week about Turnure's resignation didn't initially name him or what he allegedly did.

Turnure, who worked for the Akron police beginning in 2009, resigned before the completion of the investigation. 

The Fraternal Order of Police Akron Lodge 7 defended Turnure for utilizing a 'minor application of force' that deescalated the situation.

'The officer used a distracting technique of cold snow to shock the resisting suspect out of his criminal resistance,' the Fraternal Order of Police said.  

According to police records, Turnure has been involved in three incidents involving potentially deadly force in the past. None of those incidents resulted in deaths.

Police discipline records also show Turnure has been disciplined three times since 2009 for minor infractions.

He is also credited with helping to save the life of a man on a golf course by delivering CPR with a fellow officer in 2016, according to News 5 Cleveland.

Hicks and his lawyer, meanwhile, are also alleging that an officer put their knee on Hicks' neck during the arrest, reminiscent of the actions that allegedly took the life of George Floyd a year ago.

'The tactic is that they restricted my client's breathing and airway by either having a knee on his neck and trying to stuff snow down his throat,' Hicks' lawyer said to the Akron Beacon Journal.  

Caprez disputed those allegations during his news conference on Thursday.

'The officer’s shin is the part of the leg most likely in contact with Mr. Hicks’ pectoral and deltoid area,' Caprez said.

'Evidence of a knee on Mr. Hicks’ neck is not apparent,' also mentioning the allegation wasn't raised until this week.

'I mean, that's life for a Black man,' Hicks, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, said to the Akron Beacon Journal about whether or not he felt brutalized by the police.

'We go through that every day. If you don't play the part in their way, they can do what they want. 

As for the issue that brought officers to Hicks in the first place, he is currently facing misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and domestic violence.

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