Warning: this article contains images of the victim that may distress readers
The family of a man who died after his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence claim he was was so brutalised he became unconscious in a bathroom and died the next day.
On Friday a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shown videos of the arresting officers violently manhandling Marcus Lampson as he lay handcuffed on the floor, screaming that he was dying.
Lampson, a 34-year-old bearded, bespectacled man, died seven days later on 23 July, two days after police said he had assaulted his girlfriend. The police shooting death of an unarmed black man in Louisiana and a white police officer’s killing of an unarmed black motorist in Minnesota prompted nationwide protests earlier this month.
Mark Aquino, a prosecuting attorney for the city of Kenosha, led the prosecution on Friday in a case that could potentially set a legal precedent about excessive force by police.
Poring over lengthy and edited videos and witness accounts, the jury heard dramatic accounts from both victims and the officers.
Aquinino said Lampson was a belligerent, antagonistic man who feared for his safety.
Police tasered him twice and subjected him to roughly 20 minutes of verbal abuse, he said.
An ex-girlfriend, who identified Lampson as her partner, identified him as the assailant and said he was not violent.
Describing a chaotic scene where he responded to a 911 call about a disturbance, Aquino said one of the arresting officers used a Taser twice on Lampson as he lay on the floor.
Prosecutors played video footage and videos from 911 calls. The video from one 911 call showed the officer holding Lampson in a chokehold.
Aquinino noted the person who placed the call was a paramedic who testified that he had never seen a Taser used on someone lying on the floor.
“He didn’t want to put him to sleep. He wanted to get him off the floor,” Aquino said.
Aquino said the paramedic told Lampson during the call that he should call for an ambulance “as quickly as possible” and said the words “you’re very lucky”.
Quoting a testimony of Kenosha police officer Dwayne Grover, Aquino said Grover said “the Taser is just a tool. We’re not here to look for no-nos. We’re just here to save people’s lives.”
Aquino said Lampson was acting violently, yelling and saying “I’m going to die.”
Describing Lampson’s death, Aquino said the medical examiner told him Lampson had chest pain, difficulty breathing and had been putting pressure on his neck, which may have caused him to collapse.
“He fought and struggled to breathe,” Aquino said.
Asked by a juror if he thought the circumstances described by police were reasonable, Aquino replied “absolutely”.
“That doesn’t make it right. But I’m going to testify to the circumstances,” he said.
Daryl Parks, the attorney for Lampson’s family, issued a statement on Friday calling the videos of Lampson’s arrest “deplorable”.
Parks said a video recorded by an officer was not accurate and should not have been allowed into evidence because it was taken when Lampson was handcuffed.
He said the video shows that Lampson was “minimally conscious when he was arrested and when transported to the hospital”.