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Bodycam video shows handcuffed man telling Ohio officers 'I can't breathe' before his death

In video of the April 18 encounter, Frank Tyson can be seen lying motionless on the floor of a bar for more than 5 minutes before police check him for a pulse.
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The Canton Police Department in Ohio has released body camera video from the night a 53-year-old man died after he repeatedly told officers “I can’t breathe” as he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and he was pinned to the ground.

In video of the encounter on April 18, the man, Frank Tyson, can be seen lying motionless on the floor of a bar for more than 5 minutes before police check him for a pulse and about 8 minutes before CPR is started.

In the nearly 36-minute video, police respond to the scene of a single-car crash to find a downed power pole and an unoccupied vehicle with the driver’s side door open and an airbag deployed.

In the video, a man in a white van, whose face is blurred, drives by and tells police that the man responsible is at an AMVETS lodge down the street. Officers enter the lodge, and a woman asks them to remove Tyson. When the officers approach him, he knocks over a barstool and tells them to get the sheriff.

They then attempt to handcuff him. Police identified Beau Schoenegge and Camden Burch as the “two primary officers” who responded to the call. The video was captured by Schoenegge’s body camera.

“They’re trying to kill me,” Tyson says. “They’re trying to kill me.”

Tyson shouts “Call the sheriff” several more times and continues to say, “They’re trying to kill me.”

Police then take him to the ground, and a voice can be heard saying, “You’re going to get sprayed.” Another person says, “Don’t spray him.”

Bodycam footage shows police approaching Frank E. Tyson on April 18, 2024, at an AMVETS Post  in Canton Township, Ohio.
Bodycam footage shows police approaching Frank E. Tyson on April 18, 2024, at an AMVETS Post in Canton Township, Ohio.Canton Police

Once Tyson is handcuffed, one of the officers appears to put his knee on the top of Tyson’s upper body, while Tyson says “I can’t breathe” multiple times.

An officer tells him to calm down and to stop fighting. Tyson responds: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. You’re on my neck.”

The officer had his knee on Tyson for about 30 seconds, according to the video.

Shortly after the officer removes his knee, Tyson again says he can’t breathe, to which someone responds: “You’re fine. Shut the f--- up.”

After Tyson appears to stop moving, an officer is seen looking through Tyson’s wallet and talking to bystanders. Tyson appears to be motionless on the floor for more than 5 minutes, while at least one officer talks with bar patrons.

At one point the officer jokes: “I’ve always wanted to be in a bar fight. I don’t know if this counts.”

When one of the officers returns in the frame, he asks whether Tyson has calmed down and whether he’s breathing.

The officer checks him for a pulse, and officers later perform chest compressions on an unresponsive Tyson. 

Canton police said in a news release Friday that officers had responded to a report of a one-vehicle crash just after 8:15 p.m. Thursday. They said witnesses directed them to the AMVETS, where they made contact with Tyson and he struggled with them. 

“Shortly after securing him in handcuffs, Officers recognized that Tyson had become unresponsive,” the news release said.

The news release said that CPR and several doses of Narcan were administered before Canton Fire Department medics arrived and that Tyson was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m.

His cause of death is pending, said Harry Campbell, chief investigator for the Stark County Coroner’s Office.

In addition to the body camera video, police also released recordings from two 911 calls.

The police department said in a statement that it “immediately contacted” the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct an independent investigation. Without naming Tyson, the bureau confirmed that its investigation of a “fatal officer-involved critical incident” is active and ongoing.

Canton Mayor William Sherer II said he had sat down with members of Tyson’s family “to not only allow them to see what is now being released to the public, but to give them my condolences in person.”

Sherer said in a statement that his goal is to be as transparent as possible.

“This investigation is in the hands of BCI, and we will continue to provide them with all the required information they need to do their work,” he said.

Police Chief John Gabbard said he extended his “deepest sympathy” to those close to Tyson.

“Based on experience, I am confident that BCI will conduct a very thorough review,” Gabbard said.

Sherer and Gabbard said that because of the pending investigation, they are limited in what they can say or what information they can provide.

Schoenegge and Burch, both of whom joined the department in 2022 and are assigned to the traffic bureau, have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation under department policy.