Family of Georgia Man Killed In Police Custody Call for Justice, an End to QI

USA Today reports that the family of Hector Arreola, who died under police custody in January 2017, released a four-minute video reenactment of Hector’s death, along with audio of Hector’s 911 call, during a press conference in Columbus, Georgia, on Friday, in hopes of bringing renewed attention to their case. 

In the video, Rodrigo Arreola, Hector’s father, says that one of the family’s goals is to end qualified immunity. 

“Our intention is to provide a voice, and assistance in healing, to the victims and families who have suffered the injustice of police violence,” Rodrgio said. “Our goal is to change the laws that provide immunity from wrongdoing to police and the governments that employ them.”

Hector’s death was originally ruled an accident, but the state medical examiner amended the death certificate to homicide after reviewing body camera footage.

According to court records, Hector dialed 911 requesting police assistance. When officers arrived, they found him acting strangely and called for an ambulance. Before it arrived, the cops arrested Hector for disorderly conduct. One officer held Hector down while the other sat on him. 

“I can’t breathe,” Hector pleaded 16 times before he died.

A judge ruled that the two officers involved do not have qualified immunity, so the family’s case is proceeding to a jury trial in May. Now the Arreolas want all families to have the same opportunity to hold bad cops liable. 

Because of qualified immunity, “a family cannot hold anyone accountable,” Rodrigo said. “How many people are going to go through this and be completely ignored?”

Read the full piece in USA Today here.