Grand Jury Fails to Indict Louisana Cops For Suffocating Man During Arrest

Robert Minjarez Jr. with his mother, Catherine Cortez

Robert Minjarez Jr. with his mother, Catherine Cortez

SCOTT, La. — A grand jury declined to indict Louisiana police officers who killed a man by holding him down and asphyxiating him until he was unresponsive.

Robert Minjarez Jr., 30, died five days after officers arrested him outside of a gas station on March 2, 2014. During the arrest, several officers remained wholly or partly on top of Minjarez after his hands and legs were cuffed.

For about five minutes, Minjarez is heard on audio from the dash cams screaming, “Help, help. Help me. Get off. You’re going to kill me.” “You’re going to suffocate…” and “I can’t breathe” three times. At one point an officer can be heard telling Minjarez, “You got 265 pounds on your back, you’re not going anywhere!”

During the ordeal, Minjarez cried and screamed, his voice becoming “increasingly muffled, hoarse and strained” according to the coroner’s report, which listed the primary cause of death as “compressional asphyxia due to face-down physical restraint by law enforcement officers.”

Minjarez was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The report states Minjarez “had blue ears and was not breathing initially.” He remained in intensive care until declared brain dead, and was later declared dead on March 7, 2014.

Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation themselves, and and turned their findings over to the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the FBI. The FBI New Orleans Division released a statement confirming the investigation.

“The investigation did not develop any information with which the DOJ Civil Rights Unit could prosecute,” the statement read.

The names of the officers responsible have not been released.