London (CNN)An investigation has been launched after video footage emerged Friday showing a Black man shouting “I can’t breathe” while being arrested in Britain last year.
Simeon Francis was arrested in July 2019 in the British seaside town of Torquay and later released. He died 10 months later while in police custody after he was arrested again in May 2020.His family provided CNN on Friday with a 19-minute video of last year’s arrest, which shows Francis being handled by at least 10 police officers with several of them pinning him to the ground. He is heard shouting “Get them off me, you racists!” After around 13 minutes, still yelling, he is lifted by the officers and carried into a police van. Francis also tells officers he “can’t breathe,” a plea that echoes the one made by George Floyd during his death in the United States in May, and which has become a slogan of demonstrators protesting against police brutality around the world.It is unclear if Francis needed medical attention, why he was being arrested, or what led up to the incident, Desmond Jaddoo, a community activist and representative for the family told CNN. Devon and Cornwall police have not responded to CNN’s requests for comment citing an ongoing investigation.Read More3 recordings. 3 cries of 'I can't breathe.' 3 black men dead after interactions with policeThe family believes the video shows police used excessive force during the incident, Jaddoo said.”This is nothing new in terms of the plight of black people. And clearly these disproportionalities that exist need to be challenged and need to be questioned,” Jadoo said, “And most importantly we need answers because a family is in mourning and that must never be forgotten.”Francis was released after the July arrest, according to the family. But 10 months later, in the early hours of May 20, Francis was arrested again in Torquay, by Devon and Cornwall police. Later that evening, police say, he was found unresponsive in a cell.The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), the UK’s police watchdog, is investigating the case of Francis’ death in police custody. A preliminary post-mortem examination did not identify a cause of death for Francis, the IOPC said in a statement.”Further tests will be carried out,” the statement adds. “We are analyzing a considerable amount of CCTV footage from the custody suite. We are looking at the level of care provided during the period of detention, including the frequency and adequacy of checks carried out.”The IOPC also confirmed receiving the video footage on Friday. “We have received a referral after a complaint was made to Devon and Cornwall Police by the family of Simeon Francis relating to an earlier arrest. The referral is currently being assessed,” the IOPC told CNN.UK police force referred to watchdog after man tased in front of childAt this point, the video of the July 2019 incident does not appear to be related to the circumstances of his death in May 2020.Neither Devon and Cornwall Police nor the IOPC have responded to questions from CNN about why Francis was arrested and detained on either May 20 or in July 2019. They have also not said whether any charges against him were issued. Devon and Cornwall Police cite the IOPC’s ongoing investigation as the reason why they cannot comment but say they are fully cooperating with the watchdog.Police say that none of the officers have been disciplined or put on restrictive duty.”Our thoughts and condolences remain with the family and friends of Mr Francis and we remain committed to a wholly appropriate, independent and thorough investigation into the events surrounding Mr Francis’ death,” reads a June 9 statement issued by Devon and Cornwall police.