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Family asks for major changes at Tarrant County Jail: "My brother was murdered"

Family of man who died while in custody asks for change at the Tarrant County Jail
Family of man who died while in custody asks for change at the Tarrant County Jail 02:04

TARRANT COUNTY — The family of Anthony Johnson Jr., who died while in custody at Tarrant County Jail, is speaking out for the first time since the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

 "You're going to understand our pain and you're going to understand why we're out here doing what we're doing," said Chanell Johnson, Johnson's sister. "That's why my brother's death is not going to go in vain."

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's said Johnson died from "mechanical and chemical asphyxia," a homicide ruling the family says leaves them both relieved and angry.

Officials say the use of pepper spray and methoxetamine in Johnson's system were contributors. 

"I'm happy that everyone can finally see that it was a homicide. My brother was murdered," Chanell said. 

"I not only got the birth of my son, but I also got to see him die," said Jacqualyn Johnson, his mother.

Johnson family attorney Daryl Washington said the family wants "more than anything else to see that there's going to be change in the Tarrant County Jail because parents are not supposed to bury their children and they don't want this to happen to nobody else."

A portion of the video was released by the jail, showing Johnson under a pile of detention officers back in April.  

Tarrant County investigators say employee Rafael Moreno put a knee into Johnson's back, which is against department policy. Moreno and his supervisor – Lt. Joel Garcia – were fired, reinstated and then put on administrative leave because they were not fired properly. 

The family wants to have the full video released.

CBS News Texas has made a request to see the full video, in addition to the full medical examiner report, and have not heard back yet.  

"I don't know why it still hasn't been released?" said Janell, Johnson's sister. "And maybe we all must have a sit down and look back on that video. Because Mr. Garcia, how can you have seen that if that was anybody else in the street, you would have intervened?"

Garcia's attorney Randall Moore sent a statement in part: 

"Garcia's time on scene until deferring to medical is less than four minutes, from detecting lack of response to deferring to medical is less than a minute. Multiple supervisors and jail personnel were present before, during and after the events listed above. Despite what you are being told, the tactics publicly stated as what should have been done, are not part of the use of force policy or training at Tarrant County Sheriff's Office. Garcia followed stated policy and practice in his limited involvement in this matter.  He is saddened by the outcome as well as the public persecution  he has received prior to a complete investigation being conducted and release of the full video along with policies and training actually practiced at Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.

"He's saddened at the loss of life. No officer wants that. He's also saddened by the fact there were about 20 people involved and for unknown reasons, only two were singled out by the Sheriff. There were supervisors giving commands prior, during and after Garcia's limited involvement. The timeline shows he did what he could as he was able. I will also say that Garcia's sense of urgency as questioned was influenced by the on scene medical personnel, which has not been shown to the public yet."

Meanwhile, there have been requests made from lawmakers in Washington, along with local and state leaders, to have the Department of Justice take over the investigation.

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