SOUTH DAYTONA, Fla. — Attorneys filed a lawsuit Thursday against the city of South Daytona alleging that excessive use of force by police, including officers placing their knees on a man’s back and neck, caused the man’s death.
Attorney Ben Crump said in a statement that the lawsuit presents “another compelling example of excessive and deadly use of restraints by police.”
Crump said on Thursday he will release footage showing that two officers kept their knees on the back and neck of Timothy Coffman for more than four minutes on June 28, 2018.
“He was walking and talking and breathing just fine until those police officers put their knee on his neck for four minutes,” Crump said in the news conference Thursday.
Police came across Coffman on the that after a report of a suspicious person trying to enter several properties on Lemon Road. Officers said Coffman appeared to be on drugs and possibly hallucinating. Crump said Coffman struggled with mental health issues.
Officers used a taser and pepper spray to try and subdue Coffman, who was hitting and spraying them with a pesticides container and bit one officer’s finger, according to the police report and body camera video. Once on the ground, the officers applied a neck restraint to Coffman.
Officers then gave Coffman two hits of Narcan once he went unconscious.
According to Crump, Coffman never regained consciousness and died four days later from a brain injury sustained during the attack.
The medical examiner’s report ruled Coffman’s death a homicide due to complications from methamphetamine toxicity with physical restraint contributing.
A use-of-force review by the police department found the officers “demonstrated standards that comply with the departments policy directives.”
The state attorney’s office said they are standing by the letter they sent in October 2018 following their investigation into Coffman’s death.
“Based on a review of the investigation and the information provided, no further action is warranted by this office,” wrote State Attorney R.J. Larizza.
South Daytona declined to comment citing the pending litigation. The city said none of the officers involved in Coffman’s case had any disciplinary issues on their record before or after his arrest.
Court records show Coffman had been booked into jail more than 20 times since 2009 on charges ranging from drugs to grand theft.
Watch the news conference discussing the case in full below:
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