'I can't breathe': White man dies in police custody in Mississippi

crime | Jul 21, 2015 | By Martin Barillas

The family of a young white man who died in police custody in Mississippi is struggling to find answers about the circumstances of his death. Thirty-year-old Troy Goode, who was described in a press release as devoted family man and a chemical engineer, was taken into custody at a July 18 concert in Southaven, Mississippi. Goode’s wife, Kelli, was driving from the Snowden Grove event center in the northern Mississippi town. With them was their infant son. While they were driving, Edwards descended from the vehicle near a local shopping center for as yet undetermined reasons. According to attorney Tim Edwards of Memphis TN, who is of counsel to Goode’s family, "He was intoxicated and his wife was driving…He was acting erratically and got out of the car for reasons unknown." Kelli Goode stopped the couple’s car at approximately 7:45 PM on the fateful day.
 
It was then that someone called for assistance from the Southaven Police Department. Goode allegedly resisted arrest when officers arrive. According to witness Ashley Dunlap, who spoke to LocalMemphis.com, "He opened the back door to the K9 police car." Dunlap added, "The officers had to tame the dog and keep the dog under control and then the man starts running ... so the police officers had to run after him." At the scene, Goode was hogtied by the officers before being placed facedown on a stretcher by the arresting officers. The stretcher had come with a responding ambulance. Attorney Edwards told The Huffington Post, "A witness was heard to say that Goode could not breathe." 
 
 
Goode and his family were from nearby Cordova, Tennessee. Goode and his wife have a 15-month-old son named Ryan. He was a graduate of the University of Memphis.
 
Edwards said that Goode (see press release) suffered from asthma, and usually had a medicine inhaler on his person. He was arrested for disorderly conduct. In a video that captured part of the incident, a bystander says "They've hogtied him. That's such a bad idea."  Shortly afterwards, a second witness is heard to say, "Video it, just in case he dies." 
When Southaven Police officers arrived, Goode was observed “running from the area acting strange and not cooperative” and learned he “had allegedly taken some LSD.”A spokesperson for the police told Fox13 News that Goode made have been under the influence of "LSD or something similar."
 
Police say that they “'attempted to detain the subject who began to resist,” and that ' before Goode 'was eventually restrained by officers and transferred to an awaiting ambulance to be transported to the hospital.” He died approximately two hours later at Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto. The cause of his death is being investigated. The results of an autopsy and toxicological report are still due. Witnesses, and Goode’s family members, fear that the use of restraint by the police may have been a contributing factor.  Results of the autopsy may not be available for several weeks.
 
Edwards said that Goode was out of contact with his family from the time of detention until the announcement of his death. Family members were told that if they tried to see him in the hospital that they would be arrested. Edwards said that the 180-pound Goode was no threat to any police officer and that a preliminary examination of the incident shows that hog-tying him was uncalled for.
 
The risk posed to those hogtied is that they may succumb to positional asphyxia. Among the law enforcement agencies banning the practice is the Los Angeles Police Department.
 
Attorney Edwards said of the tragedy, "We want to know what happened before we jump into any type of legal action." Goode’s family has not issued any statements, Edwards said. “They’re in a state of shock and are grieving," Edwards said. "I have asked them not to speak until their minds clear up."
 
Back in 2009, another alleged case of police harassment roiled the waters in Southaven, which lies adjacent to the Tennessee state line. Erstwhile Mayor Greg Davis said at the time in response to a lawsuit filed against the city, police department, police chief, and an individual officer, "There comes a point in time when someone has to say enough is enough, and this fits the mold." At the time, Chandra McKinney filed a $6 million lawsuit in which it was claimed that Southaven officer Lance Sheppard struck and pepper-sprayed her without cause. The incident occured during a March 2006 traffic stop. Mayor Davis said that the lawsuit was frivolous and that McKinney later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
 
The current mayor Southaven is Darren Musselwhite.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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