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Pleading Suspect Dies In Police Custody: ‘You Can Breathe Just Fine’

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Jorge Azucena, died in police custody after repeatedly telling officials:

“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” he pleaded. “I have asthma, I have asthma.”

“You can breathe just fine,” one sergeant told him. “You can talk, so you can breathe.”

After being placed lying face-down on the floor he was pronounced dead by paramedics.

Nearly a year after Azucena’s death, LAPD officials have not yet determined whether any of the officers involved that night should be disciplined for failing to summon help and, in the case of some officers, for lying to investigators. Nine officers and two sergeants are the subjects of ongoing internal investigations, while another sergeant under scrutiny recently retired, said Capt. Paul Snell, who commands the LAPD’s Southwest Division, where the death occurred. As is customary, prosecutors from the county district attorney’s office are reviewing the case to determine whether the inaction amounts to criminal behavior.

“There should not be any question that when somebody in custody is heard to say ‘I cannot breathe,’ the officers should promptly call for an ambulance,” said Robert Saltzman, a member of the Police Commission that oversees the LAPD.

Through a spokesman, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck declined to comment.

Police brutality continues to climb. Who will end the madness?


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“Pleading Suspect Dies In Police Custody: ‘You Can Breathe Just Fine’”