Ervin Leon Edwards died in a Louisiana jail under an unfortunate set of circumstances after his 2013 arrest for wearing baggy pants. A new video contradicts earlier police reports of the moments before he was found face down in a cell, potentially supporting a wrongful death lawsuit claim brought by Edwards’ family.
According to police, Edwards was arguing in November the year of his arrest outside a Port Allen gas station in West Baton Rouge Parish. Deputies approached the couple, causing Edwards to become combative according to reports. One officer threatened the use of a Taser to subdue him but was asked by the girlfriend to not do so because of his health problems according to the 2014 lawsuit filed by the family.
Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate reported in detail about the recently obtained surveillance footage, which does appear to show Edwards struggling. However, the point of contention was how long was Edwards hit with a Taser by an officer and if it prompted his death in the cell on that fateful day. Even more alarming, the video reveals that officers neglected to check on Edwards for over 10 minutes. despite him showing signs that he was unresponsive.
From The Advocate:
It’s difficult to tell from the video footage how many times or how long the officer shocked Edwards because other officers obscured the view inside the cell. It is clear, however, that Dustin McMullan kept the stun gun pressed against Edwards’ buttocks in “stun drive” mode for more than a minute — a fact apparently in direct contrast with McMullan’s recollection of the event in the police incident report.
McMullan wrote in his report that he warned Edwards three times to quit resisting officers’ restraint attempts before he pulled his stun gun from its holster and pressed it against Edwards.
“I then pulled the trigger on the Taser using the full five second circle on Edwards,” he wrote, meaning he shocked him for five seconds, which is the longest a shock can be applied without stopping for a brief time and pulling the trigger again. “However, the Taser did not appear to have any effect on Edwards.
Officer McMullan, who has an attorney representing his interests in the suit, claimed in his report that he only used the Taser in “stun mode” for one minute. But the video appears to show McMullan using the device several times and didn’t check on Edwards after the use of force.
A corrections expert told the Advocate that the actions of the police that day was “bad correctional practice” and questioned why several large men were needed to use their weight to press and keep Edwards down even though he was a large man himself.
Watch the video of Port Allen Police and their confrontation with Ervin Leon Edwards in the clip below.
Photo: The Advocate/Port Allen Police