Bodycam video shows man telling Canton, Ohio, officers ‘I can’t breathe’ moments before death in police custody

An officer can be seen placing his knee on Frank E. Tyson’s upper body for roughly 30 seconds. More than five minutes passed before police checked Tyson for a pulse.

CANTON, Ohio — The Canton Police Department on Wednesday released body camera footage showing the death of 53-year-old East Canton resident Frank E. Tyson while in police custody, including his last words of “I can’t breathe.” It is a 35-minute, 46-second video which shows officers arriving to the scene, confronting Tyson, and attempting to take him into custody. After his last words, it also shows a period of 5-plus minutes where he laid motionless on the floor before police checked for a pulse.

The encounter occurred on April 18 when two officers responded to an AMVETS Post on Sherrick Road Southeast in Canton Township. Police say Tyson ran there after crashing his car near the eastern limits of the city of Canton. The video shows officers struggling to arrest Tyson before one of the officers restrains him by placing his knee on the back of Tyson’s upper body. Tyson is heard on the video repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.”

The department identified the officers involved as Beau Schoenegge and Camden Burch of the traffic bureau. Both were placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy, with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation currently conducting an inquiry of the case.

Authorities initially acknowledged the incident last Friday, April 19, saying officers responded to a report of a one-vehicle crash in the 1700 block of Sherrick Road Southeast around 8:15 p.m. Officers observed a power pole in the roadway that had been sheared in the wreck and found the vehicle nearby before being directed to the AMVETS, where Tyson was located.

In that release, police stated that Tyson struggled with the officers before they secured him, and that the officers noticed he was unresponsive “shortly after securing him in handcuffs.” After performing CPR and administering multiple doses of Narcan, Tyson was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

FULL BODYCAM VIDEO FROM CANTON POLICE

**Viewer Discretion Advised**
This video contains graphic content and shows a man’s death while in police custody. It is provided for transparency to the public and community we serve. Viewer discretion is strongly advised, as the footage may be disturbing and is not suitable for all audiences. We extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected by this tragic event. Please consider carefully whether you want to proceed with viewing this video in the player below.

An officer can be seen placing his knee on Frank E. Tyson's upper body for roughly 30 seconds. More than five minutes passed before police checked Tyson for a pulse.

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WHAT THE VIDEO SHOWS

Here is the timeline of the events:

  • Officers first responded to the scene of the crash before a bystander called them to the AMVETS bar and began describing Tyson. Just about four minutes into the video, the bystander can be seen opening the door of the bar and pointing Tyson out, with another patron asking police, “Please get him out of here now.”

    At the four-minute mark of the video, police walk toward Tyson, who begins arguing with officers and telling them to “get the sheriff.” After Tyson knocked down a barstool in front of the officers, authorities tried to restrain Tyson, and a struggle ensued.

    As officers attempt to subdue Tyson, he continues to resist. He is then heard repeatedly shouting, “They’re trying to kill me,” and, “Call the sheriff.”

  • About a minute after the officers approached Tyson, the officers and a bystander grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground. Tyson continued to shout “call the sheriff” as officers attempted to restrain him face down on the floor.

    The video then shows an officer place his knee on Tyson’s lower back for about 20 seconds as an officer places Tyson in handcuffs. After Tyson is subdued, the officer again can be seen restraining him by placing his knee on his upper body from the back.

    Tyson is heard telling the officer to “get off me.” The officer who handcuffed Tyson then shouts at him to “calm down.”

  • About 10 seconds later, with the other officer’s knee still pinning his body down, Tyson is heard telling the officers “I can’t breathe,” before an officer tells him to “stop fighting.”

    Seconds later, Tyson again tells officers that he cannot breathe, adding, “You’re on my neck.” The officer pinned Tyson down with his knee on his upper body for approximately 30 seconds total.

    Shortly after the officer removes his knee, Tyson again says, “I can’t breathe,” to which an officer responds, “You’re fine. Shut the f— up.”

  • Tyson stopped moving and remained face down on the floor motionless for more than 5 minutes as officers discussed next steps. During that time period, an officer crossed Tyson’s legs behind him.

    Approximately 90 seconds after the officer removed his knee from Tyson’s body, Tyson’s foot is seen twitching. The officer tells Tyson to “stop fighting,” and shortly afterward, Tyson’s foot stops moving.

  • The bodycam footage then shows the officer stand up and converse with bar patrons. The officer explained to a patron that Tyson was involved in a crash and that he “took out a whole pole.”

    A patron can be heard saying something about a “good tussle” and laughing. The officer responds, “I’ve always wanted to be in a bar fight. I don’t know if this counts.”

  • Following this conversation, one officer returns asks, “Did he calm down?” referring to Tyson. Another officer responds, “Yeah, he might be out.” At this point, the first officer kneels down and appears to check Tyson’s pulse before walking away.

    From the time the officer removed his knee from Tyson’s body to the time his pulse was checked, 5 minutes and 34 seconds had passed.

    About 10 seconds later, an officer commanded Tyson to stand up, but Tyson did not appear to move or respond. The officer then attempted to move Tyson to his side and began to shake him before asking a bystander to close the door behind Tyson as another officer assisted in trying to wake him up.

  • The officers then continue to check for a pulse and attempt to get Tyson to respond for several minutes.

    Just over two minutes after officers first noticed Tyson had become unresponsive, one of them again asked whether Tyson’s heart was beating. The other officer responded, “I didn’t feel one. Can you tell medics to step it up? He feels not responsive and I don’t know if I can feel a pulse.”

    About 20 seconds later, officers began performing chest compressions on an unresponsive Tyson. The video shows various officers performing CPR for several minutes.

  • More than five minutes after police began chest compressions, an officer is heard saying, “Where are these medics? We called out for… like 10 minutes ago.”

    Officers are heard saying they gave Tyson two doses of Narcan, a drug that treats narcotic overdoses.

    Just under eight minutes after police began CPR, an officer says, “We called them, they weren’t here. Like six, seven minutes. Told them to step on it, and still not here.”

  • Approximately two minutes later, fire department personnel arrived and took over attempts to revive Tyson. About a minute after that, video shows paramedics arriving and removing Tyson on a gurney.

MAYOR’S RESPONSE

Canton Mayor William Sherer II released the following statement after the video was made public:

“Today we have released the bodycam footage of the arrest incident involving the death of Mr. Frank E. Tyson. I sat down with members of the Tyson family to not only allow them to see what is now being released to the public, but to give them my condolences in person. As we make it through this challenging time, my goal is to be as transparent with this community as possible.

“This investigation is in the hands of BCI, and we will continue to provide them with all the required information they need to do their work.”

WHAT COMES NEXT?

A spokesperson for the Stark County Coroner’s Office told 3News that Tyson’s autopsy has been completed, but because it has been classified as an “in custody death” it will be up to the prosecutor’s office to decide when the autopsy report will be released.

WKYC asked for this bodycam video via a public records request late last week before it was eventually made public. We are currently reviewing the footage in its entirety and will post it in this story when able. 3News has also been diligently working to contact Tyson’s family and will update this story as it continues to develop.

Finally, we also reached out to the Rev. Hector McDaniel, president of the Stark County NAACP. He told us, “The organization is pleased the video was released in a timely manner. Its team will review the tape and issue a statement at the appropriate time.”

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