The Conway Police Department released a video Wednesday morning showing the February arrest of a man who died after being chased, held and arrested in a grocery store shoplifting incident.
After months of investigation by the Arkansas State Police, the 20th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney conducted a review and determined there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the incident by officers with the Conway Police Department.
Lionel Morris, 39, died during transport to the hospital after the Feb. 4 incident, according to Conway Police Chief William Tapley.
At the beginning of the video, two officers can be seen approaching Morris and Brandy Arnold in the aisle of Harp's Grocery Store at 1120 E. German Lane. Arnold was handcuffed without incident, but Morris bolted and a chase ensued through the store. Officers used a stun gun on Morris multiple times during the struggle.
Morris can be seen struggling with the officer numerous times, even placing the officer in a chokehold and grabbing for, what Tapley said, was a knife "clipped to his pocket." Other officers arrived at the scene and eventually subdued Morris.
In the video, Morris yells “I can’t breathe” to which an officer replies “If you can talk, you can breathe. Chill out.” Morris continues to repeat that he can’t breathe, as the officer stands with his foot on Morris’ back.
Tapley said in the video that Morris was placed "in the recovery position" and began receiving treatment for injuries he sustained during the struggle.
Medical help was requested before Morris was detained, Tapley said in the video. After arriving, paramedics took over treatment.
The state medical examiner's report showed Morris had "several drugs" in his system, including methamphetamine and morphine, Tapley said.
"The level of drugs in Mr. Morris' system and the strain he exerted while struggling with police ultimately contributed to his death," the police chief said.
A Freedom of Information Act request has been filed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette with the Conway Police Department for more information on the incident.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.