Michael Sabbie, 35, was found dead in his jail cell July 22, 2015, and news reports suggested that he died in his sleep. A medical examiner deemed his death “natural” because of his obesity and heart-muscle damage, implying that the tragedy was unavoidable. However, a recently released video suggests otherwise, the Huffington Post reports.
Sabbie was being held at Bi-State Jail, a small facility in Texarkana, Texas. Less than 12 hours after his arrest, he told staff that he couldn’t breathe, and a nurse treated him for low oxygen levels.
The next day he was on the floor of his jail cell, having difficulty breathing again, and he was taken to the nurses station. Although he thought he had pneumonia, the nurse cleared him, and he was returned to his cell. According to police reports, Sabbie also asked, “So y’all aren’t going to help?”
What followed was his court appearance on a domestic charge that afternoon, in which his bond was set at $2,500 after he pleaded not guilty. The judge and court bailiff noticed that he was having health issues. In court, Sabbie said that he needed to go to the hospital because he had been spitting up blood.
The video begins filming shortly after Sabbie and some of the other detainees are taken back to jail.
We see him stop to lean against the wall to catch his breath, and shortly after, the situation escalates, and he gets thrown on the ground by an officer, with several other officers coming to assist.
Throughout the video, we hear him repeatedly saying the words, “I can’t breathe,” as well as asking for water and begging, “Please.”
According to HuffPost, Sabbie was found dead and “cold to the touch” in his cell the morning of July 22.
“He was treated as if his life did not matter,” his family said in a statement. “Most of all [we] want justice and accountability and to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
On Aug. 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice informed Sabbie’s wife, Teresa, that it would not be prosecuting anyone in connection with his death because it determined that “the evidence did not establish a prosecutable violation of the federal civil rights statutes.”
Read more at the Huffington Post.