A video showing Pennsylvania inmate Shaheen Mackey being shouted at and tased by prison guards before he became unresponsive was released on social media.
The footage was posted on a page under the name Nieem Johnson, according to Times Leader. Johnson is reportedly engaged to Rasheda Hammonds, the administrator of Mackey’s estate. In June, the family settled a $3 million lawsuit against the county.
Mackey died on June 6, 2018, at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. He had only been at the facility for five hours for a warrant related to a violation of a protection-from-abuse petition when the fatal encounter began.
Mackey family attorney Theron Solomon confirmed the video’s authenticity to The Citizens’ Voice. In the video, Mackey can been seen seated in a chair as several prison guards and a couple of nurses surrounded him. One guard held a spit mask over his face, while the rest of his body was in restraints or held by other guards.
The officers repeatedly demanded Mackey stop resisting as he squirmed and moaned in the seat. The staffers also assumed he was on drugs like meth or heroin, as a couple of them suggested. They asked the masked man what he took several times and eventually, the nurses administered Narcan, a drug used to treat overdoses.
“This motherf—-r. He’s strong,” a guard said at one point. “I don’t know what he’s on. Probably meth. When they get pumped on meth, they get power like this.”
A buzzing sound, believed to be tasers, was heard around the eight-minute mark.
“It’s not even affecting him,” an officer said. “It’s doing nothing. He don’t even feel it. There’s no point in utilizing it.”
Moments later, Mackey went silent. There were multiple attempts at CPR while he was in the chair before he was unstrapped and placed on the floor. He died two days later at 41 years old.
“Instead of treating the situation as the medical emergency that it was, the correctional officers treated Mr. Mackey’s convulsions with more physical force,” the lawsuit stated.
No charges were filed. The Luzerne County Coroner’s Office ruled Mackey died of natural causes, specifically “myocardial insufficiency due to severe coronary artery disease.”
Members of Mackey’s family held a news conference on Wednesday outside of the Dyller Law Firm in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
“Really? Come on,” said Tatiyanee Mackey, his daughter. “That’s no natural cause. They let him sit in that chair and take his last breath, and they didn’t care. That’s sick.”
The 20-year-old called out the staffers for administering improper first aid after her father lost consciousness.
“How do you give someone CPR in a chair?” she continued. “Anyone who knows anything about CPR, you gotta lay them down flat, tilt their head. Did anyone see that? They did that after his body was limp in a chair; he was already gone. They didn’t try.”
Tatiyanee Mackey believes the staff of the facility failed to acknowledge her father’s humanity.
“See the truth. Don’t see skin color, don’t see that because it’s not about that. He’s a person, that’s first, and that’s all I gotta see,” she said. “Imagine being him. Imagine being in that chair, imagine feeling how he felt. Just close your eyes, and take yourself out your own body, put yourself in his shoes. Imagine being his child, and you gotta see this. Nobody cared about him. Nobody.”
Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis defended her decision not to prosecute the corrections officers.
“Neither the county’s decision to settle the civil action, nor the video’s release affect the investigation or decision with respect to criminal charges against the corrections officers in this case,” Salavantis said Wednesday. “It should be noted that not only did our office expend a substantial amount of time and resources doing a full investigation into the incident; the matter was also reviewed by federal authorities.”
Tatiyanee Mackey insisted the fight for justice was not over.
“The fight continues,” Tatiyanee Mackey said. “The movement will keep going. This is not it.”