ORLANDO, Fla. – Attorneys for the family of a man who died in 2018, four days after he was held down by South Daytona police officers, are asking state law enforcement to reopen the investigation into his death.
Attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Jasmine Rand said they will release video from June 28, 2018, showing that two officers kept their knees on the back and neck of Timothy Coffman, who had a mental illness, for more than four minutes.
Coffman died four days later. Attorneys for his family say officers were not held accountable.
Crump, a civil rights attorney, has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and George Floyd. He said he is now seeking justice for Coffman’s mother.
“We want her to get justice for her son, there’s no excuse for what happened to Timothy Coffman no excuse. In a nation with as many resources as the United States of America has that we should be dedicated to, to not killing mentally ill people, because they’re mentally ill, but in trying to help save their lives,” Rand explained.
According to officials Coffman suffered from a traumatic brain injury from deprivation of oxygen.
“Like so many other people in America, Timothy couldn’t breathe,” Rand added. “A medical examiner later concluded that Timothy Hoffman’s cause of death was homicide, and that the contributory cause of death was physical restraint.”
Crump claims Coffman was beaten with a baton, tased numerous times and held face down on the ground by four officers.
“The officers obstructed his ability to breathe until he lost consciousness,” a news release said. “He never regained consciousness and died four days later from a brain injury sustained during the attack.”
During the news conference, Crump addressed the parallels between Coffman and George Floyd, whose death in Minnesota has prompted worldwide protests.
“Like George Floyd, Timothy Coffman screamed out for him. He was face down on the ground. Like George Floyd, Timothy Coffman had the police officer put his knee in his neck for four minutes until he lost consciousness. Like George Floyd, Timothy Coffman had a police officer put knees in his back, that compressed his lungs and obstructed the air going to and from his oxygen that led to the lack of blood flow to the brain that caused him to be brain dead,” Crump said. “And like George Floyd, the police in South Daytona did not obey him any dignity, nor did they offer him any respect, nor did they offer him any humanity.
Crump said Coffman’s case reiterates the need for restricting the use of excessive force and life-threatening restraints by police.
“We have found a lot of battles across the country. In the name of civil rights against police brutality,” Crump said. “It is eerily similar as Attorney Jasmine Rand just stated to you about what happened to George Floyd, and what happened to Timothy Coffman.”
Unlike the case involving George Floyd, the officers in the case against Coffman have not been held accountable in any way.
“He had committed no crime. Listen to the 911 tape. He had committed no crime, what he needed was a helping hand. What he got was a deadly knee,” Crump said.
Coffman’s family is asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the case again.