Crump parachuted into Little Rock, Arkansas, this week to host a press conference calling on the Biden Justice Department to investigate the death of 30-year-old black man Terence Caffey, who died in December last year while in police custody.
Crump apparently thinks he’s got a winner on his hands because, like George Floyd, patron saint of Hennepin County, video footage of Caffey’s arrest shows him pinned to the ground saying he can’t breathe shortly before dying. But unlike the Floyd footage, the Caffey tape shows him attacking workers at a movie theater for no reason and then fighting police officers who were trying to subdue him.
Security cameras caught the entire thing. Caffey is first seen exiting a theater into a hallway at Movie Tavern around 9:30 p.m. A second person joins him for a moment before Caffey pulls on a different door that doesn’t open. A staff member then enters the scene and Caffey quickly approaches him, puts his hand on the staff member’s chest, and then goes around his back to put his hands around him from behind like a hug. Two others exit the same theater into the hall and then more staff appear, at which point Caffey walks on his own to a wall and slides down to sit.
There is now some kind of commotion with staff members moving about, one of them directly speaking with Caffey, who remains seated. The staff member walks a few steps away from Caffey and speaks into a walkie-talkie, before posting up against the wall opposite of him. Caffey then starts pulling things from his pockets and tossing them across the floor as he continues to sit.
Another staff member, who is black, then enters the scene, at which point Caffey jumps to his feet and lunges at him. A separate member on staff, who is also black, gets between the two and attempts to push Caffey back. A struggle ensues with multiple staff members attempting to subdue Caffey.
Caffey is then seen kicking one of them and is eventually brought to the ground, with multiple staff members on top of him before a security guard arrives. The crowd breaks and the guard, an off-duty cop, attempts to put Caffey in handcuffs. Caffey jumps up and tries to escape, first bumping into a wall and then falling again to the floor. He gets up once more and faces the guard who advances on Caffey, eventually getting him back on the floor. Caffey continues to struggle and multiple staff members attempt to secure his flailing hands and legs.
Several minutes later, two police officers arrive and manage to quickly cuff Caffey’s hands behind his back, while he remains lying face down. Everyone else stands up and Caffey is eventually seated against a wall.
More officers arrive and two hoist Caffey to his feet to walk him outside. That concludes the theater’s security footage. But wait! Thanks to Crump, there’s more!
Crump called for the police department to release the officers’ body camera footage as well. And so they did.
When the police arrived and Caffey was cuffed, seated upright against the wall, he is heard panting and mumbling, looking around in a confused state, but not panicked. Someone asks what he’s “on” and Caffey appears to say “weed.”
When the officers pull Caffey up to his feet to take him outside, he says, “I can’t breathe” and struggles to balance. Because Caffey either can’t or won’t use his feet to walk, the cops then lift them up to carry him.
Caffey then attempts to struggle free and the officers place him back on the ground outside. “Quit grabbing me!” one yells. Another says, “Quit grabbing my partner.” Caffey at one point yells, “Let me go!”
The police attempt to further restrain Caffey with more cuffs while one officer has his knee bearing down on Caffey’s left shoulder.
Caffey continues to occasionally cry out in his manic state. One officer says, “He’s definitely on sherm,” a slang term for a joint that’s been coated in PCP, which is known to cause delirium and aggressive behavior.
When paramedics arrive, one cop says, “We’ve got a female that was choked that’s inside, and then there’s a young black male that he was in there talking to his mom when we were getting him (Caffey) out, that he said he was elbowed in the face. This is the suspect.” One medic asks if Caffey has any injuries and the cop tells him only there’s “a scratch on the face.” Caffey is heard throughout the exchange continuing to yell and grunt on the ground.
Caffey was eventually hoisted up to be placed in the squad car, his legs limp. It looks like he may have fallen asleep before coming to when he’s seated. At about 10:20 p.m., nearly an hour after the affair began, an officer checks on Caffey in the car, about three minutes after he was placed there.
Caffey appears unconscious and a medic attempts to awaken him. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and he was ultimately pronounced dead after being transferred to a hospital.
Arkansas state law keeps autopsies confidential, but the district attorney, Larry Jegley, said that the medical examiner determined that Caffey’s death was basically due to a freak medical episode called sickle-cell trait which, under extreme physical stress, can result in sudden death.
In short, black men can sometimes have sickled cells, and be completely fine, until one day, under unique circumstances, they’re not.
Did Caffey deserve to die? No. Did the police mistreat another “unarmed black man”? Also no. But is this another one of Ben Crump’s shyster cases with perhaps his most unsympathetic dead client yet? Absolutely.