NAACP Urges DOJ to Probe Man’s Death After Cops Place Knee on Chest

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate a police-involved incident that resulted in a 53-year-old Black man dying.

On April 18, police officers in Ohio confronted Frank Tyson while he was at a bar at the American Veterans post located in Canton. He ultimately died after police officers arrested him, and he complained multiple times that he wasn’t able to breathe.

Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, wrote a letter recently to Kristen Clarke, the DOJ’s assistant attorney general for civil rights. In that letter, he wrote that he was “deeply troubled by this horrific tragedy.”

As the letter reads:

“Without federal intervention, the police officers may not be held accountable for their actions. We seek justice and accountability.”

A DOJ spokesperson would only confirm to media outlets that they received the letter from Johnson, but they declined to give any further comment.

Video footage was captured of the incident. It shows that while officers were handcuffing Tyson, one of them placed his knee on Tyson’s upper body. Tyson then tells the officers that he can’t breathe, but none of the officers looked like they reacted to those statements.

The video then shows that officers sat Tyson up, but then he doesn’t move any more and looks like he’s unresponsive. First responders came to the scene and administered CPR to Tyson as well as multiple Narcan doses before medics from the Canton Fire Department arrived.

Tyson was transported to a hospital, but he was ultimately pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m.

The incident that resulted in Tyson’s death recently is very reminiscent of the death of George Floyd in 2020. Floyd was also a Black man who died while a police officer in Minneapolis kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes.

While he was being arrested, Floyd also told police officers that he wasn’t able to breathe.

On Wednesday, Johnson took to the social media platform X to write:

“Frank Tyson should be alive today. Nearly 4 years after the tragic death of George Floyd, we are forced to bear witness to yet another unarmed Black man cry out for air at the hands of law enforcement.”

The “two primary officers” who were on scene on April 18 were Camden Burch and Beau Schoenegge, as the Canton Police Department said. Both are assigned to the department’s traffic bureau and have been placed on paid administrative leave following the incident as an investigation has begun.

Bobby DiCello, who is representing Tyson’s family as their attorney, recently spoke with NBC News, saying that the police department in Canton disregarded Tyson’s humanity.

As DiCello said:

“It is outrageous that in 2024 an officer put their knee on anyone and that when he last spoke and said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ the last words he may have heard were, “You’re fine, eff you.’

“He may not have been able to discern that. That’s where the Canton officers said the quiet part of George Floyd’s death out loud. They’re saying the quiet part out loud. You can do it by your actions or you could tell it to their face.”