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Attorney releases portion of body cam video from UT Southwestern custodial death claim

Startling video released in federal lawsuit against UT Southwestern Medical Center Police
Startling video released in federal lawsuit against UT Southwestern Medical Center Police 03:08

DALLAS — Kenneth Wayne Knotts was having a mental crisis on November 29, 2022. But a select few were witness to it until Tuesday. Attorney Geoff Henley, representing the 41-year-old's parents and four children, made the video public.

"He had been taken by the Wilmer Hutchins Police Department to UT Southwestern and he left the premises at UT Southwestern," Henley said.

The father of four from Austin was on a road trip with a woman to Houston and Dallas. Henley said he had a flat in Hutchins. Police got called out for a mental health call in Hutchins.

Officers said Knotts was on top of a white SUV at the Love's Travel Center in the 2500 block of South Interstate 45, holding an infant in his arm. Police said they tried talking him off the vehicle.

According to a prosecutor's report, Knotts said the Austin Police were trying to kill him. Officers on the scene were concerned because Knotts seemed to want to throw his son in the air.

The document shows they responded at 6:35 am on November 29. Seven minutes later, he was arrested for apprehension by a police officer without a warrant. The law allows officers to take a person into custody who they believe to have a mental illness.

Knotts got taken to the UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he became antsy and eventually escaped. Officers were able to catch him again. 

The prosecutor's guide said police took Knotts to the hospital, where the video release picks up. Henley said Tuesday's portion was seven minutes and fifty-six seconds long from a fifty-two-minute body cam.

"I need water," Knotts said.

Although his hands are restrained, hospital police and medical staff allow Knotts to get water from a faucet. However, he craves more water, as in the video, Knotts moves forward. Officers move in to keep him on the hospital bed.

"So, officers are trained to use what's called a five-man takedown," Henley said.

According to the attorney, each officer should take a limb and hold the person down. Hospital police told a special investigator from Dallas Police that's what they did. The officers said there were no physical hits.

But Henley says the hands pressing on his client and the way he was positioned on the bed became lethal.

"They're wedging his abdominal cavity against the corner of the bed. And his chest straight down on it. He's making some people also refer to it as pancaking," Henley said.

In the meantime, as police and medical staff talked about getting Knotts back on the hospital bed, Henley said Knotts was unconscious.

As the video plays, the staff realizes he has no pulse when the Austin man is put back in the bed.

Emergency measures started to take place, but after nearly an hour of lifesaving efforts, Knotts was pronounced dead.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office's autopsy report on Knotts' death said it was a homicide. He, according to death investigators, died from sudden cardiac arrest associated with physical restraint and the way his body was positioned.

UT Southwestern has not responded to a request for comment on the video and the federal lawsuit filed against them.

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