Bodycam footage released by the Salt Lake City Police department shows a 40-year-old woman crying out “I don’t want to die” during her arrest which was found to have contributed to her death several weeks later, according to medical examiners in Utah.
Megan Joyce Mohn, 40, was arrested on 11 January and body camera footage of the incident was released on Thursday.
Her death has been ruled a homicide, according to The Salt Lake City Tribune.
“Help! They’re going to kill me! Help me!” she can be heard yelling in the footage.
“Please don’t shoot!” she later shouted. “Don’t kill me! I don’t want to die!”
Salt Lake City Police said in a press release that they received a report concerning a woman “walking in circles carrying a piece of rebar” at 3.13am on 11 January. She was later identified as Ms Mohn.
Law enforcement said she had been trying to enter a closed off area of the Marathon Petroleum refinery before running back to the area where she was first spotted – the intersection at 400 West and 900 North in the northern parts of the city near Salt Lake City International Airport.
An officer who was off-duty at the time was working a second job at the refinery. The officer told Ms Mohn to drop the rebar, which she had done, police said in the statement. Ms Mohn “kept screaming incoherent language” when she was told to sit down, prompting the off-duty officer to call for backup and take her into custody.
The footage of the altercation begins when a second officer arrives at around 3.36am.
The video shows Ms Mohn on the ground screaming for help as an officer asks for her name on several occasions.
“You’re going to go to jail if you don’t even tell us your name,” the officer says.
Ms Mohn says she’ll “probably go to jail anyways”. She then requests that they call the police to confirm that the officers are in fact law enforcement officials.
After one officer says they are indeed police, Ms Mohn shouts “Help! They’re going to kill me! Help me!”
She attempts to get up, the footage shows, prompting officers to get her to stay down.
“I don’t want to die, please,” she says. The officers ask to see her ID, but she tells them it has been stolen. She doesn’t answer when she’s asked for her name again. She breathes heavily and asks for water.
“If you tell me your name, maybe,” one of the officers says.
“Oh, that’s just exploitation,” she answers.
“Well, you want water, I want your name,” the officer responds.
She asks them to call more officers to the scene before once again yelling for help.
“I sound like all of those stupid people on TV, don’t I?” she asks the officers.
“You sound pretty ridiculous,” one of them says.
When the officers attempt to cut her backpack off her, she starts yelling for help once more.
“You need to stop,” she says.
Around three minutes after the second officer’s arrival, the law enforcement officials move Ms Mohn onto her back, prompting her to start kicking. One of the officers then holds her down on the ground with her face down while another grabs her legs.
“Say no to drugs, you’d have less problems,” one officer says.
“Okay first of all, alcohol is a great drug,” Ms Mohn says in response.
“It is, look where you’re at,” one officer says, laughing.
One of the officers holds Ms Mohn with her face to the ground for over four minutes, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
After around three minutes, Ms Mohn goes quiet. Her legs appear to go limp.
They put her in a “recovery position” on her side, the press release said. It’s at that moment that the released body camera footage comes to an end.
The statement said that the officers conducted a “sternum rub” and gave Ms Mohn the anti-opioid overdose medication naloxone.
The press release said methamphetamine and spice were discovered among her items. When she remained unresponsive, the press release stated that the officers removed the restraints and conducted CPR. She was later transported to hospital by ambulance.
The department said the officers were told by medical professionals that Ms Mohn’s life wasn’t in danger and they left the hospital. Officials said last month that police were made aware of her 30 January death at the hospital on 9 February. Almost three weeks passed between Ms Mohn’s arrest and her death.
Police said that the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office told them to wait for an autopsy to be conducted and to avoid treating the passing as an “officer-involved critical incident”.
The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner issued a ruling calling the death a homicide six months after Ms Mohn’s arrest. The office said she died of an “anoxic brain injury” following “cardiac arrest” from “probable methamphetamine intoxication in the setting of an altercation involving physical restraint”.
The chair of cardiology at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California, Dr Alon Steinberg told the paper that “when you have a cardiac arrest ... the heart’s not pumping any blood flow to the whole body, but the most vulnerable area is the brain”.
“So if the brain doesn’t get oxygen for four or five minutes, it could be quite catastrophic,” he added.
“It sounds like there was a prolonged period of time where she was not getting enough circulation to her brain, and she suffered brain death, and she may have suffered other problems,” he said.
“This is, unfortunately, a common occurrence,” Dr Steinberg said. “We need to educate people in the public that this is dangerous.”
The Salt Lake City Chief of Police Mike Brown told The Tribune in a statement that the four officers “acted appropriately, quickly and professionally to save” Ms Mohn’s life.
All four of the officers involved in the incident have been put on paid leave pending the ongoing investigation into Ms Mohn’s death, according to police.