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Dramatic dashcam video that shows the fatal encounter between Georgia police and a teenage driver has prompted a civil rights lawsuit and claims by his family that his death was an "execution."
Nicholas Dyksma, 18, died in the early-morning incident on Aug. 31, 2015, after he led Harris County deputies on a 10-mile pursuit south of Atlanta, police said.
The dashcam video was obtained and is being released to the media by the Dyksma family's attorney as a way to show the public what happened — and potentially prevent other police stops from turning so tragic, the family added.
"A lot of times people think, 'Well, he was in a police chase, he deserved everything he got,'" Nicholas Dyskma's father, Greg, told NBC News on Friday. "But a police chase isn’t the reason to execute somebody."
"I understand running from the police was wrong," Greg Dyksma added, "but his crime didn’t equal the punishment he got. It’s not the police’s job to be the judge, jury and executioner on the side of the road."
The pursuit began around 2 a.m. after police in Columbus responded to reports of a suspicious person in a pickup truck at a Circle K convenience store. When they arrived, police tried to wake up the driver — later identified as Dyksma — who was slumped behind the wheel. He then woke up and sped off, police said.
Officers pursued Dyksma to Harris County, where deputies there used tire-deflation devices to stop his truck on the highway.
The deputies described in an incident report how they gave "loud verbal commands" to Dyksma, but said he failed to comply, which prompted one of them to break the driver's side window to get him out.
Dashcam video shows deputies dragging Dyksma from the car and tasering him before trying to handcuff him.
"It’s not the police’s job to be the judge, jury and executioner on the side of the road."
"Defendants held Nicholas down, pinning him to the ground with the weight of their bodies, and continued to do so even after he was handcuffed," according to the family's lawsuit, filed on Feb. 14.
That weight "cut off his air supply so that he was unable to breath, and Defendants did not stop applying pressure on his airway until after he lost consciousness," the suit continues.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said he died from a combination of the stun gun, "compression of the neck and torso" and "acute" methamphetamine intoxication.
One of the deputies is heard on the video asking: "Is he alive?"
The suit also alleges that the deputies did not attempt CPR on Dyksma until the ambulance arrived about 10 minutes later.
"By then it was too late to revive him," according to the suit.
The deputies said they were monitoring Dyksma's breathing and pulse while awaiting for emergency responders.
"Mr. Dyksma was breathing heavily and appeared to be disoriented. He would not respond to us and was acting as if he were going into shock," Deputy Heath Dawson wrote in his incident report.
"When we could no longer find a pulse and Mr. Dyksma quit breathing, we determined to start CPR," he added.
Dyksma was later pronounced dead at the hospital about an hour after the incident started.
Deputies said they found a prescription pill bottle in a backpack stashed in the bed of Dyksma's truck.
Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley told NBC News on Friday that the office can't comment because the case is in litigation. Three of the defendants named in the suit — deputies Dawson and William Sturdevant and former deputy Tommy Pierson — have not responded for comment. The sheriff's department said Pierson was terminated in 2016 for unrelated reasons.
A fourth defendant, Sgt. Joe Harmon, could not be reached for comment.
The Dyksma family is asking for a jury trial and damages in an amount determined by the jurors.
Greg Dyksma said he understands his son had drugs in his system and for some unknown reason fled police — but he didn't deserve to die.
"My son was 115 pounds. He wasn’t moving, he wasn’t fighting, he wasn’t doing anything," his distraught dad said. "That’s an execution."
He added that his son's alopecia, which causes hair loss, led him to get picked on growing up and put him in situations where his reaction was to flee.
"He wasn’t the type who would fight you," Greg Dyksma said. "He would run.”
Dyksma's mother, Tammy, added that her son's death should instead prompt the Harris County Sheriff's Office to reevaluate how they make arrests.
"I don’t want them to treat anybody else’s child like that," she said.