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Arkansas Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Statement on Lionel Morris’s Death in Police Custody

July 30, 2020

The Arkansas chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s volunteer networks, today released the following statement as new footage was released of the death of Lionel Morris in police custody.

“Lionel Morris should still be alive today,” said Jessica Scott, a volunteer with Arkansas Moms Demand Action. “No one should die in police custody, repeating a devastating refrain we’ve heard far too often – ’I can’t breathe’ – to deaf ears.”

According to reports, “as an officer had his knee on the 39-year-old’s back inside Harps Food Store, Morris, handcuffed and lying face down, repeatedly offered a succinct and familiar plea: ‘I can’t breathe.’ ‘If you can talk, you can breathe. Chill out,’ replied the officer.” When medical personnel arrived on the scene minutes later, Morris did not have a pulse and was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead en route to the hospital.

Meaningful use of force policies encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable. Use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.

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