Crime - Sacto 911

Man who died in police custody with ‘baggie’ in throat had meth in system

Police body cam video shows arrest of man who died with ‘baggie’ in throat

Sacramento Police body cam released Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, shows the arrest of George Knox, who died in custody July 31. He allegedly had a "sandwich size plastic bag" in his throat, according to the department.
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Sacramento Police body cam released Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, shows the arrest of George Knox, who died in custody July 31. He allegedly had a "sandwich size plastic bag" in his throat, according to the department.

The man who died in Sacramento police custody July 31 was found to have very high levels of methamphetamine in his system, according to a toxicology report by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

The man, George Knox, 42, also allegedly had a “sandwich size plastic bag” in his throat, which was found by medical personnel when he was transported to the hospital, according to the police department.

On Thursday night, police released four body camera videos, four in-car camera videos and one radio call, totaling more than two hours of footage related to the incident. The videos were released as part of a city policy mandating videos in critical incidents such as deaths in custody be made public within 30 days.

As of Thursday evening, the autopsy report for Knox had not been released by the coroner’s office. The coroner’s death record lists Knox’s cause of death as “undetermined.”

According to the toxicology report, Knox had a large amount of methamphetamine, amphetamine and marijuana substance in his system.

“That’s the most I’ve ever seen,” said Sacramento County Coroner Kim Gin. “People have died from a much, much smaller amount.”

At 2:04 a.m. on July 31, a patrolling officer spotted a group of men loitering near a dumpster in the AM/PM parking lot on the corner of Stockton Boulevard and Fruitridge Road, according to Broadcastify, an online police radio archive.

In the body camera footage, Knox is detained by a Sacramento officer for having an outstanding warrant for parole violation.

The officer handcuffs Knox and searches his pockets, pulling out a bottle of prescription pills, a box of cigarettes, a pipe, wallet and numerous cards. Knox is escorted to the back seat of the officer’s patrol car where Knox slides in and lies down on his right side.

The officer leaves Knox unattended twice while he talks to a second officer and questions three other men at the scene.

Sgt. Vance Chandler, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department, said investigators are looking at the length of time that the officer left Knox in the car.

“The officer who detained the subject is now responsible for the subject,” he said.

Knox appears to worsen in the time the officer is away. When he gets back into the car, the officer can be heard saying, “Hey, what are you doing back there? Why are you shaking? You good?”

Knox’s response is inaudible.

About 8 minutes later, the officer rolls down the back window to read Knox his Miranda rights, and notices Knox shaking uncontrollably. He asks Knox what he has in his mouth; Knox says he doesn’t have anything.

The officer asks Knox if he wants a medic four times before requesting a paramedic on his in-car computer from the Sacramento Fire Department.

The second officer looks through the open door at Knox, saying “he’s OD’ing.” Knox can be seen sitting up, shaking and agitated, his words mumbled.

Neither officer provides medical aid to Knox before paramedics arrive.

Chandler said officers are trained in basic first aid and CPR, and are only equipped with Narcan, an opioid reversal drug.

The officer who was responsible for Knox is on full duty, Chandler said, and his conduct is part of the investigation.

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM
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