*Disclaimer: This is raw police body camera footage and viewer discretion is advised
ATHENS, Ala. - Today at 3 p.m. the Athens Police Department held a brief news conference to release more information about a man who died days after being tased and restrained by police.
Police Chief Floyd Johnson released body camera footage and gave a brief statement. He said the video had been edited to protect the identity of witnesses and the dignity of the patient, Randy Nelson.
Johnson held a briefing on February 15 to discuss the matter. He said the initial incident happened the morning of Feb. 3 when Athens Police received a call "to assist the medical staff with a patient who was becoming out of control at the emergency room." The officers who responded were told by Athens Limestone Hospital staff that Nelson was physically struggling with them during their attempts to conduct a mental health evaluation.
"The medical staff and patient's mother left the room, and officers talked to the patient from the doorway. The patient remained very agitated and threw his hospital gown and glass vials at officers," Johnson said.
After officers were unable to calm Nelson, Johnson said they told the patient's mother and staff that it would be necessary to use a Taser on him to stop further attempts to harm himself and others.
"There's no other way of doing this," comments one police officer in the video.
"Ok," replies a voice believed to be the patient's mother.
After one officer used the Taser on Nelson and another restrained and handcuffed him, "It later became apparent the patient was having trouble breathing, and the staff moved the patient to a trauma room," Johnson said.
Nelson was transported to Huntsville Hospital, where he died on Feb. 8, Johnson said.
Johnson said he waited to release video from the officer's body camera until after the Nelson's family viewed it. He said has asked the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to review the case to ensure transparency.
A preliminary autopsy report is still pending, so there is no official cause of death for Nelson.
Johnson said the video was edited to protect witnesses and also the dignity of the patient, Nelson.
In the video released, you hear officers telling Nelson, "Stop, stop!" and later saying, "We're trying to help you, ok? We're just trying to help you, buddy, we aren't trying to hurt you." Nelson can be seen throwing his gown and other objects police previously told media were glass vials. Later, the Taser is deployed and police and medical professionals are seen rushing to Nelson's side.
According to the Athens Police Department's Use of Force Policy, any use of force will be subject to a legal and/or administrative review. It details that unjustified uses of force are unreasonable amounts of force, or force used in a cruel manner. It adds that any use of force needs probable cause and depends on the subject's level of resistance.
We asked Nelson's family's attorney for comment, and he declined Wednesday evening. He indicated he intends to call a news conference at a later date to explain the family's side of the story. He also confirmed the family had a chance to view the video before it was released.