Family Wants Answers on Dallas Jail Death

     DALLAS (CN) – The family of an unarmed white man who died seeking help in the lobby of the Dallas County jail demands that the sheriff release video of deputies handcuffing him and allegedly kneeling on his neck.
     Joseph Hutcheson, 48, of Arlington, parked his truck outside the jail on the morning of Aug. 1 and ran inside, yelling that his wife was trying to kill him.
     Sheriff’s officials said they handcuffed him to calm him down before he was a threat to himself or others.
     Witnesses said Hutcheson told deputies he couldn’t breathe and that his face turned blue. He was taken to a hospital and died.
     “He came in saying, ‘Don’t be scared of me. I just need some help.’ They just tackled him as if he’d threatened their lives,” April Berryhill told The Dallas Morning News. “He didn’t have a weapon. He wasn’t swinging at the officers. He just needed help.”
     Hutcheson’s family and supporters held a news conference outside the jail Friday morning, demanding release of the video. They believe Hutcheson was suffering a medical emergency of some kind when he ran into the jail lobby.
     Nicole Hutcheson, his wife, blasted Sheriff Lupe Valdez’s officials for saying they believed Hutcheson had drugs in his truck, then retracting the statement on Aug. 2. She said it was an attempt at “dehumanizing” her husband.
     “There is probably a cover-up here and I’m not having it,” she said. “I will fight until the day I die until I get justice for Joseph.”
     Hutcheson’s wife compared the case with that of Christian Taylor, an unarmed black suspect who was shot to death at an Arlington car dealership two weeks ago. Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson has been lauded for quickly firing the rookie white police officer who shot Taylor and for quickly informing the public of details of his investigation .
     “I want answers. I deserve answers and I want them really quickly,” Hutcheson’s wife said. “Mr. Taylor got his answers, and I’m still sitting there waiting. I want those tapes released and I want to know, who is the man that stood on my husband’s neck?”
     Hutcheson’s brother James said he wants to know why his brother died after going to police for help.
     “Somebody got on top of him and choked him until he pissed himself,” he said. “Where is the outrage for this?”
     Hutcheson’s family returned to the jail Friday evening with several dozen more protesters, carrying signs stating, “I Can’t Breathe,” “Release the Video” and “Justice 4 Joseph,” and chanting, “No Justice, No Peace” through a megaphone.
     As they entered the jail lobby, the protesters were met by more than a dozen deputies in riot helmets and shields. The protesters left after being told the lobby was a place of business and that they should leave.
     Autopsy results are pending, according to the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office. Hutcheson’s wife said parts of her husband’s neck were missing when they received his body and that a private doctor they hired to perform a second autopsy cannot determine a cause of death without them.
     Sheriff’s officials said they sympathized with the Hutcheson family, and that the office is investigating. At least six deputies involved in the incident have been placed on restricted duty.
     “Having someone die is traumatic, and we understand the desire for the public to have information,” Sheriff Valdez said in a statement. “However, releasing the video at this time could compromise the integrity of the investigation. Witness accounts of the events could be affected by what they see in the media. We continue to ask for the public’s assistance in this matter. There were numerous witnesses who were in the area during the incident and every effort is being made to identify them. The Sheriff’s Department needs these witnesses to come forward now so that we can interview them. We ask that you be patient with us while we conduct a thorough investigation.”

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