Three Dallas police officers have been indicted in connection with the death of an unarmed man who died in their custody last year.
Sgt. Kevin Mansell, Officer Danny Vasquez and an unidentified third officer who has not yet surrendered to authorities each face one count of deadly conduct, a Class A misdemeanor, with the maximum penalty of one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
In response to the officers' indictment Thursday, Timpa's mother, Vicki Timpa, told NBC 5, "I waited 16 months and the truth is coming out and I thank the Lord. They need to go to jail. I want them to smell the rust on the bars."
The indictment announced Thursday comes nearly 16 months after the 32-year-old father called 911 for help while at an adult video store on West Mockingbird Lane.
High on cocaine and panicked, Timpa ran out of the store and into traffic before being put in handcuffs by security guards. 5 police officers arrived shortly after and placed him into their own handcuffs.
Within an hour he was dead.
Documents obtained by NBC 5 Investigates, The Dallas Morning News, and lawyers for Timpa's family show that the 32-year-old was pinned to the ground for more than 14 minutes, with one officer's knee in his back. Timpa was mocked by police when he became unresponsive.
A Dallas County medical examiner ruled Timpa's death a homicide "Due to the toxic effects of cocaine and physiologic stress associated with physical restraint."
The officers said they restrained Timpa to keep him from running into the street.
On Friday the Dallas Police Association released a statement calling the charges "baseless" and the grand jury's action unjust.
"Prior to this weeks’ action by a grand jury, the Dallas Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, as well as the Internal Affairs Division, thoroughly investigated the officers’ actions, including consultation with experts in the fields of medicine and use of force, and found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers. Specifically, the experts concluded that the physical restraint of Mr. Timpa was reasonable and consistent with their training," the statement said.
Timpa suffered from anxiety and schizophrenia. He told the 911 dispatcher he was off his prescription medications.
President Michael Mata said Timpa's mental state and drug use were the main contributors to his death. He said Timpa was combative during the encounter.
"What the officers did out there did not cause the death of this man. Cocaine caused the death of man. Excited delirium caused the death of this man," he said."We are not trained to handle people who are in this state of psychosis. Our policy says you restrain them the best you can to prevent injury to yourself, to the citizens, or to themselves, and there's no perfect way to do that. Again, these three officers did not kill this man."
The city of Dallas and Dallas County have blocked the release of public records and the officers' body camera footage detailing Timpa's death, citing an ongoing investigation.
According to a lawsuit filed by Timpa's family the footage shows the officers mocking Timpa as he struggled for air. The officers reportedly remained on top of him after Timpa became unconscious, administering CPR several minutes later.
One officer was captured on body camera saying, "I hope I didn't kill him."
Mata defended the officers' actions in restraining Timpa, but said if they acted unprofessionally they should be punished administratively, not sent to jail.
"You've got to be able to adapt to every situation. Even though a specific training technique is maybe altered a bit, it doesn't make it wrong. It makes it what was necessary at the time," Mata said. "Nothing they said caused the death of this man. They're words. You don't send them to jail of prison because of a word."
Vicki Timpa's attorney Geoff Henley said he was encouraged by the grand jury's actions.
"This was an indication to me that the DA's office looked at this, they took this seriously, they didn't just sweep this under the rug as we commonly fear in these cases," he said.
Part of the joint investigation revealed discrepencies in police records. Documents outlining Tony's behavior once officers arrived contradict each other.
Mata said he did not know why the reports were different, but said, "That's what you go to trial for.'
He expects the officers to be cleared of the charges.
Mansell, a 27-year veteran of the department, and the third officer, identified as "John Doe" are on administrative leave.
Six officers in Dallas County have been criminally charged or pleaded guilty to charges this year.
- DPD Officers Under Investigation After Death of Unarmed Man
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