What’s worse than getting stopped by police while brown? Getting thrown in jail by the Los Angeles Police Department while brown and wheezing from asthma.
Jorge Azucena made news headlines back in 2013, when Los Angeles police officers arrested him, ignored his pleas for medical assistance, tossed him into jail, and left him to die. Now, two horrifying official reports have come out, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The second LAPD clapped handcuffs on Azucena, the man pleaded for help:
“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. I have asthma, I have asthma.”
To which a sergeant callously replied:
“You can breathe just fine. You can talk, so you can breathe.”
Azucena begged for medical attention over and over again — usually it only takes one or two puffs of Albuterol or another bronchodilator to calm an asthma attack — but the Los Angeles police officers kept ignoring him.
Los Angeles police locked Azucena up and left him to die.
LA’s finest then booked Azucena and left him face down in a holding cell, where he lost consciousness. When they finally got him to a hospital, it was too late and Azucena died.
Nine officers, two sergeants, and Southwest Division Police Captain Paul Snell are the subjects of “ongoing internal investigations — along with a third sergeant who has since retired — and the county district’s attorney office is reviewing the case to see if they should press charges.
Robert Saltzman, a member of the Police Commission that oversees the LAPD indignantly told reporters:
“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.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck declined to comment, of course.
Meanwhile, Azucena’s family didn’t even know police had arrested him. One relative told Dave Lopez from CBS 2 Los Angeles that when they called:
“They said that they didn’t have anyone in the holding tank that night and that they also didn’t have any John Does,”
Three days later, family members went to the Los Angeles Southwest Division police offices and discovered that Azucena had died. Azucena left behind his mother and his son, who was only one year old at the time.
CBS 2 adds that Los Angeles police told them a car chase had taken place before the arrest, and that Azucena had a criminal record. This pattern of police departments putting their black and brown victims on trial for their own murders to cover up police brutality, abuse, and misconduct has become wearisomely familiar.
Watch CBS 2’s heart-wrenching interview with Azucena’s grieving mother.
h/t Daily Kos.