Authorities release body-worn camera footage from East Baltimore in-custody death
Officials on Thursday released body-worn camera footage from an incident earlier this month where a man suffering from an apparent overdose was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints by a Baltimore police officer.
He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
On Aug. 4 about 11:15 a.m., Officer Gregory Vilchez responded to the 2400 block of Sherwood Avenue in the East Baltimore Midway neighborhood for an attempted suicide and overdose, police said.
There, Vilchez found a man restraining 57-year-old Eugene Douglas on the ground as he screamed and rolled. Four other men looked on, body-worn camera footage shows. The five men appear to be friends of Douglas.
One of the onlookers tells Vilchez that Douglas hit his head on the ground. Another says they administered Narcan, which can reverse an opioid overdose.
At one point, the man holding Douglas and trying to calm him down says, "Gene, it's P, yo. What are you fighting for, yo? What are you fighting for? What are you fighting for? I'm here. I'm here."
After more than three minutes, Vilchez places handcuffs on Douglas' wrists. For a moment, he stops struggling.
"See? Now they'll get your bad ass," the man attempting to restrain him says. "Oh, you're quiet now."
Douglas wails again, the footage shows.
"Do you want leg restraints, too?" the man asks Douglas.
Vilchez says he can get them. "Is that OK?" he asks the group.
"Yeah," one of the onlookers responds.
Vilchez leaves to get the restraints from his vehicle. By the time he returns, members of the Baltimore City Fire Department are attending to Douglas.
Vilchez places the leg restraints on as firefighters attempt to hold Douglas down.
"Gene, you're hurting me, bro," the man on the pavement with Douglas says. "Gene, stop hurting me, yo. Ain't you my man, Gene?"
Once the restraints are on, the firefighters stop trying to hold Douglas down and continue to render aid.
The man restraining him gets up. Douglas' screams become less intense.
"You did a great job, brother," Vilchez tells the friend.
While the firefighters continue to treat Douglas, one of the onlookers says, "Stop fighting, Gene. You're going to hurt yourself, bro."
Another police officer arrives on the scene. The second officer is only identified by her last name, Murray.
Nearly six minutes after Vilchez arrived, Douglas becomes unresponsive.
The man who had held Douglas tells Vilchez there are no warrants for Douglas' arrest.
"That's not what we're here for, brother, we're just going to make sure that he gets medical attention," the officer responds.
After a few moments, the man who had been on the ground says, "That don't look good." He tells his Douglas, "Keep breathing."
An ambulance arrives to transport Douglas to the hospital.
The man implores Douglas, "Breathe, Gene."
He tells first responders, "I ain't gonna lie, I know he had a fentanyl packet in his pocket. And I didn't see it when I checked his pockets."
Medics took Douglas to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
The Baltimore Police Department's Special Investigations Response Team and the Maryland Attorney General's Office's Independent Investigation Division are conducting a joint investigation of the incident.