Derrick Scott was a 42-year-old man who died on May 20, 2019, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, while in police custody. Derrick’s final words were all too familiar: “I can’t breathe.”
Police were called on a report that a Black man was arguing with people and brandishing a gun. When they restrained Derrick, he complained that he could not breathe and needed medicine, but officers did not heed his pleas. Bodycam footage released in 2020, a year after the incident, provides further haunting details. When Derrick stated he could not breathe, one of the officers restraining him said, “I don’t care.” Derrick would die shortly after at a local hospital.
The autopsy report completed by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office lists the probable cause of death as a collapsed lung and noted several conditions that likely contributed to his death, including physical restraint, recent methamphetamine use, asthma, emphysema and heart disease.
In public statements, the captain of the Oklahoma City Police Department said the officers involved did everything they were trained to do. The three police officers were cleared of misconduct by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office.
Derrick’s mother could not watch the entire video when it was released. “It's almost unbearable to know he took his last breath trying to get people to hear him.”