Black Woman, Handcuffed And Upside Down In Police Car, Screams ‘I Can’t Breathe,’ Bodycam Footage Shows

KEY POINTS

  • Shataeah Kelly was arrested for disorderly conduct on Aug.27, 2019
  • Bodycam footage released Tuesday showed her begging for help while hogtied in a patrol car
  • Following the incident, the officer was terminated but he has appealed his firing.

Bodycam footage of a Black woman begging for help after being hogtied and left in the back of an Aurora, Colo., police cruiser for over 20 minutes was released Tuesday.

The woman, identified as Shataeah Kelly, was arrested for disorderly conduct on Aug. 27, 2019. Aurora police officer Levi Huffine handcuffed her and put her in the backseat of the patrol car. When she started sliding around in the backseat in order to escape, the officer pulled her out, hogtied her and placed her back in the backseat. During the 20-minute drive to the jail, Kelly begged for help.

Bodycam footage showed the woman lying in the back of the cruiser. “You’re going to make me ride the whole way like this?” Kelly asks the officer and moments later, she slips heads-first onto the floorboard with her legs in the air.  She then screams for help and says, “Officer, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Please help me, please, please help me. Please, officer. Officer, please lift me up.”

Shortly before arriving at the jail, she says, “How many times do I have to beg you master? Master, I’ll be good.” At the jail, a female detention officer opens the vehicle door and says, “Honey, why are you head down like that?”

After being removed from the car, Kelly looks at Huffine and says, “Look at my face. You couldn’t lift me up?”

Following the incident, the officer was terminated.  However, he has appealed his firing. A written decision is expected sometime this month.

During a City of Aurora Civil Service Commission hearing Tuesday, the bodycam footage was released.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson testified and said, “If that doesn’t upset you watching that video, if that doesn’t make you sick, watching that video, I don’t know. He’s lucky she did not die in the back seat of that car, because he would be, in my opinion, in an orange jump suit right now.” 

“As an African-American female that she denigrates herself to the point that, where she is so asking for help that she doesn’t know what to do, that she actually calls him master — that to me is disgusting,” Wilson added, KDVR reported.

After watching the video, Kelly said, “I was just crying. I mean, bawling tears like if somebody had just died. I am so numb inside. It feels like I’m actually dead, you know what I mean? Because (of) the pain that I felt watching the video.”

handcuffs-354042_1920 Representational image. Photo: Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

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