It is one police custody case that has left many baffled for years. On June 4, 2012, 56-year-old Vachel Howard was taken to custody by the Los Angeles Police Department for driving while intoxicated. He later died in jail, with one cause of death listed as a choke hold from an officer.
Howard was a grandfather of seven who was taken to the 77th Street Station Jail of the Los Angeles Police Department then handcuffed to a bench. Police had suspected that Howard was high on cocaine at the time of his arrest. He wore a long-sleeved shirt, but it was unbuttoned all the way down. Soon after he was handcuffed, Howard called the police officers’ attention. They then took him to the nurse dispensary. Howard’s struggle would begin soon after.
Vachel Howard LAPD Custody Death: Howard Was Tasered And Put On A Choke Hold
The footage from the 77th Street Station jail taken four years ago, which captured Howards’ death, was just released by organization Pro Public to make the video a matter of public record.
As Howard returned to the bench from the dispensary, he could be seen struggling against a number of police officers. They also tried to tackle the 56-year-old into the ground as they shot him with tasers. During the struggle, officers said that Howard tried to bite Officer Juan Romero. In response, Romero put a choke hold on Howard, saying it did not last for more than five seconds.
After some time, Howard can be seen lying motionless on the ground while some officers around him started laughing. It would take four minutes before officers and nurse Irene Rowe would start doing CPR on Howard to try to resuscitate him.
According to a report from Pro Publica, Howard would be pronounced dead at the Good Samaritan Hospital an hour later. A coroner would rule his causes of death as heart disease, cocaine intoxication and a chokehold.
On October 2015, the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay $2.85 million to Howard’s family as a settlement for their wrongful death claim. Meanwhile, Officer Romero was suspended for 22 days after Howard’s death.
Before his death, Howard had a history of drug use. Nonetheless, his daughter Tushana Howards believes her father did not have to die that day.
“Someone’s past doesn’t determine who they are in the present and people shouldn’t assume the worst,” Howards said.
WARNING: The video below contains graphic content.