Avoyelles, LA (Pen Point News)- Today, video surfaces as it shows a Sheriff’s Deputy choking and killing an unarmed black male for his refusal to get off a tractor. On October 20, 2017, two sheriff’s deputies, Brandon Spillman and Alexander along with Markville Police officer Kenneth Parnell, attempted to wrestle Armando Frank off a tractor near the WalMart in Marksville, LA. According to authorities, the reason for the confrontation was to serve Frank with an arrest warrant. Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s office says that Frank was resisting arrest while law enforcement was trying to bring him into custody. A forensic pathologist hired by the parish noted that manual strangulation was the primary cause of Frank’s death
A video recording of the arrest, obtained by The Advocate, shows Deputies initialing shows Deputies requesting Armando Frank identification, once that request was granted by Frank, deputies demand Frank to get off of the tractor. Frank asked several times what the arrest warrant was for and the deputy responded, “Come to the station and find out,” so Frank decided until Deputies tell him why he was being arrested that he was not getting off the tractor. Frank asked the officers to show him the warrant, the officer replied by saying, “I don’t have it with me, I’ll show you at the office”. Frank then said, “you can’t arrest me, you need to show me a warrant”, the officer replied by saying, “Yes, I can.” The officer repeatedly asked Frank to step off the tractor, and Frank said to show him a warrant. Officers began to get frustrated with Mr. Frank’s non-compliance, and they began to apply physical force, including firing a taser at Frank; once the taser subdued Frank, Deputy Brandon Spillman mounted the tractor and used a chokehold restricting the airflow from Frank while another officer forcefully pulls him off of the tractor.
You can hear the Deputy tells other law enforcement officers who later arrived on the scene, “We tried to pull him off the tractor, and he starts fighting us!” <— Nowhere in the video validates Frank fighting with deputies
“His level of resistance starts out as passive. It doesn’t go to active and aggressive until he’s physically assaulted by these deputies,” Gregory Gilbertson, director of the criminal justice program at Centralia College in Centralia, Washington, said Thursday.
Gilbertson said Frank’s questions as to what he was being arrested for, and who signed the warrant, were reasonable.
“There’s no exigent circumstance here,” Gilbertson said Thursday. “He’s not attempting to flee, he’s not assaulting anybody, he’s sitting on a tractor and he’s asking reasonable questions they are refusing to answer.”
The hold that Spillman used, known as a lateral vascular neck restraint, is typically a last resort, given the potential to restrict airflow, Gilbertson said.
“Most agencies now only authorize their officers to use it in ground-fighting situations where deadly force is their only other option,” Gilbertson said. “They might have pacified Mr. Frank if he had known what the warrant was for.”
Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University, disagreed that the officers were to blame for escalating the conflict. Officers are entitled to use as much force as necessary to effectuate an arrest, Stinson said.
However, both Stinson and Gilbertson agree that the officers could be liable for negligence.
An Avoyelles Parish grand jury weighed negligent homicide charges against the law enforcement personnel, and in March declined to return any indictments.
“Every action of every individual involved that day was well documented,” said Steve Martel, chief deputy of the Sheriff’s Office, earlier this week. “All that information was provided to the district attorney in a case file for grand jury review.”
The report by Youngsville pathologist Christopher Tape labels the death a homicide for “medicolegal purposes,” noting that officers compromised Frank’s breathing for more than six minutes by placing him in neck holds and pressing him from behind. The report, which relies on an autopsy and body camera video, also notes that officers did not attempt any resuscitative measures.
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