Guards piled on an inmate, trying to restrain him after he charged out of a cell and flailed on the floor in the minutes before his death at the El Paso County jail on Jan. 17, surveillance footage released Friday shows.
In the video, Brian Clark, a 44-year-old Colorado Springs man, bursts naked from a cell in the jail’s medical section as two jailers opened the door to provide him with a safety smock, an anti-suicide garment that can't be fashioned into a noose.
The jail staff then wrestled him to the ground, and the struggle continued for roughly 10 minutes as more deputies rushed in to assist, the video shows.
Clark died after suffering a “major cardiac event” while being restrained by deputies, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
After charging out of the cell, Clark crashed into a small desk in the corridor as the two jailers tried to bring him under control, eventually forcing him to the floor, the roughly 12-minute surveillance video shows.
Less than 25 seconds after the struggle began about 9:20 p.m., four more officers ran to help the two guards, followed by more jail staff, some who crouched or kneeled by Clark, while others who stood watching.
Little can be seen of what occurred during the struggle once Clark was taken down by at least a half-dozen deputies because the camera's view was blocked by others crowding around. There are occasional flashes of Clark's bare skin visible under the deputies. No punches are seen being thrown, nor is any deputy seen using a stun gun or pepper spray.
A jailer then wheeled over a restraint chair, commonly used to secure inmates who are lashing out, experiencing breakdowns or otherwise can’t be controlled.
About nine minutes after the struggle began, Clark was lifted into the chair. A “spit hood” had been fastened to his head to protect jail staff from bodily fluids.
Seconds after Clark was placed in the chair, his body appeared slumped forward. A medical staff member approached him approximately 30 seconds later.
About 10 minutes after the cell door opened, Clark was wheeled out of the camera’s view.
Clark “continued to resist deputies” until he was placed in the restraint chair, where he suffered the medical crisis, the Sheriff’s Office said in a post on its website.
He was wheeled into a trauma room, where staff tried to revive him but were unsuccessful, the agency stated.
Clark’s death is the latest in a series of inmate deaths in recent years, some from suicide and others involving allegations of neglect or excessive force and substandard health care.
The Colorado Springs Police Department is investigating Clark’s death because force was used, according to Sheriff's spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby.
“It does not indicate any wrongdoing by any stretch; it is just our policy,” Kirby said Tuesday.
Typically, a neutral agency investigates whenever deadly force is used to avoid conflicts of interest.
Once complete, findings will be turned over to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which will decide if the deputies involved will face criminal charges.
Ten jail staff members who were placed on paid administrative leave following Clark's death have returned to full duty, the Sheriff's Office said Friday.
A news released identified them as Sgts. Amy Ward and Lene Lipford and Deputies Alexander Yakovlev, Araceli Valle, Candance Bradburry, David Divine, Elmer Ibarra, John Vela, Kyle Shelhamer and Lisa Webster. Those involved have been employed by the Sheriff’s Office for anywhere from six months to 12 years, according to the news release.
Clark was booked into the jail Jan. 7 on a warrant for failure to appear after being arrested in 2018 on suspicion of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, and driving under the influence.
The DUI charge was a felony because he had three prior offenses, according to court records.
The indecent exposure charge stemmed from an Oct. 2018 incident, in which police reportedly found Clark “fully undressed” on top of a hill near walking trails outside of Rudy Elementary School in northeast Colorado Springs, court records show.
The county Coroner’s Office has yet to issue a cause of death, and no information has been released about why Clark was in the medical wing.