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Footage shows indicted ex-officers laughing at man who died in custody

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI (AP) – Three former police officers who were indicted by a Mississippi grand jury joked around about a Black man who died in their custody, with one of them questioning whether to call an ambulance for the man immediately, body-camera footage shows.

Officials in the state capital of Jackson announced that a Mississippi grand jury had indicted two former police officers on murder charges and another ex-officer on a manslaughter charge in the death of Keith Murriel, who is seen on video being pinned down and repeatedly shocked with stun guns during a New Year’s Eve arrest. The city released hours of body-camera footage detailing the encounter, which The Associated Press reviewed.

The officers had tackled Murriel while arresting him for allegedly trespassing at a hotel after they asked him to leave the building’s parking lot. The footage showed then-officers Avery Willis, Kenya McCarty and James Land struggling to handcuff Murriel as he was stunned numerous times for over 10 minutes.

McCarty and Willis are Black, and Land is white, according to city spokesperson Melissa Faith Payne. After officers handcuffed Murriel, they placed him horizontally in the back of a patrol car.

Seventeen minutes of the hourlong body-camera footage shows officers trying to place Murriel inside the vehicle.

FROM LEFT: Former police officers Kenya McCarty; and James Land
Keith Murriel. PHOTOS: AP

The remaining 43 minutes of the footage don’t show paramedics arriving or the officers checking on Murriel to see if he needed immediate medical aid.

The footage is broken up into multiple clips, and it is unclear whether officers attended to Murriel off-camera.

During that 43-minute period, the officers joked around about the encounter.

“I hope (he) is asleep. Because if he’s asleep, it’ll be a good ride,” Willis is heard saying on camera, using a racial slur to refer to Murriel. “It was funny seeing (his) feet in the air… In the beginning, it was funny. After a while it got annoying.”

The clip from Willis’ body camera ends after one hour. Paramedics arrived 12 minutes into the next clip from Willis’ body camera.

When a paramedic opened the back door of the patrol vehicle, he noticed Murriel wasn’t breathing.

McCarty then told one of the paramedics Murriel was “on something”. The Jackson Police Department has not indicated whether any narcotics were detected in Murriel’s toxicology report.

Paramedics performed CPR before transporting Murriel to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

On Willis’ body-camera footage, he can be heard telling someone Murriel choked on his own vomit.

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