One year after the death of a Texas woman who died from asphyxiation while in police custody, a dash cam video has been released in response to a civil suit filed by the woman’s family against the police department.
The video, provided to KXII with the approval by the State Attorney General, shows Lesa Suratt struggling with officers in the back of a police cruiser as they attempted to extract a sandwich bag full of drugs she had stuffed in her mouth.
Suratt was pulled over by Sherman police last August during a traffic stop and was then handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser along with passenger Monica Garza.
According to an investigation by the Texas Rangers, Suratt was able to free one hand and stuffed a small sandwich bag of drugs in her mouth while the police were occupied. The report stated that the officers noticed something in her mouth and attempted to open it by using pressure to the side of her face and neck.
According to the lawsuit filed by Suratt’s sister, LInda, officers used excessive force, saying they struck her sister with an open fist and a flashlight in an effort to get her to spit the bag out.
In the video, officers can be seen struggling with Suratt, before pulling her from the vehicle over a screaming Garza.
The suit claims that officers began life saving measures to help Suratt breathe, but failed to call for medical help for twenty minutes or more.
Suratt was transported to Texas Health Presbyterian- Wilson N Jones Hospital where she died. An autopsy report revealed that she died from asphyxiation.
Sherman Police Chief, Otis Henry, claimed his officers were cleared by the Texas Ranger’s report.
“The actions of our officers were investigated by an outside agency, the Texas Rangers,” Henry stated. “The results of their investigation were presented to a Grand Jury and they reviewed the evidence and investigation, and they determined there was no wrongdoing.”
Sherman City Attorney, Brandon Shelby, says both parties plan to meet next month saying, “It’s a conference with the judge where they map out upcoming deadlines as far as discovery goes, dispositive motions, and that sort of thing. So they are very very early in the civil suit.”
Watch the video below from KXII: