Lawsuit: Blytheville police crushed man’s windpipe, leaving him comatose

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BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. -- The mother of a Blytheville man has filed a lawsuit against the City of Blytheville alleging her son's trachea, or windpipe, was crushed during a September 29 arrest.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims 30-year-old Rayshawn Warren remains at a hospital in Jonesboro in a permanent vegetative state resulting from injuries sustained during his arrest.

Attorneys said Warren's medical bills already surpass $250,000.

"I feel like this shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't have came this far. It really shouldn't," said Warren's sister Rayonna Anderson.

"He ain't gonna walk, he ain't gonna talk. His voice gotta come through us," said Warren's aunt Otilla Golden.

An incident report WREG obtained indicates police were called after Warren had knocked at multiple homes in the middle of the night. In one case, the report claims he had tried to push his way into a woman's house.

Tonia Daniel, who lives next door to the house, said she believes Warren had meant to come to her house as he's done before to rest and get a drink of water.

"He would come here to rest and he would knock on the door. He knocked on the wrong door unfortunately," Daniel said.

Warren ran from an officer before police said they attempted to use an arm bar to restrain him. Officers also stated Warren was tackled and that drive stuns were used on him.

He was charged with public intoxication, fleeing on foot and failure to submit to arrest.

In response to the lawsuit, Blytheville police said Warren was conscious and combative with medics when they arrived at the scene.

They said medical records show he had amphetamines and THC in his system the night of the arrest, but police didn't make any mention of a crushed trachea. They said that at one point, he went into cardiac arrest.

"What did they really do to him? I don't know what they really did to him," said Warren's mother Tawona Warren.

WREG requested more than two hours of police body camera footage from Blytheville police Wednesday. Police released portions of two videos amounting to a little more than one minute. One shows police talking to a woman who had complained Warren was trying to barge into her home. The other video shows an officer chasing Warren, then making contact with him before Warren runs off again.

The lawsuit claims an officer used excessive force against Warren and that the officer has a history of excessive force. It also called excessive force an "institutionalized practice" at the Blytheville Police Department.

"That's how I feel right now like they tried to take my son away from me," Tawona Warren said.

The lawsuit doesn't specify how much the family is seeking in damages, but Tawona Warren told WREG she would like to see the officer responsible face criminal charges.

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