"I Can't Breathe" Resolution: Medical Aid And Transparency In Police Encounters And Investigations


"I Can't Breathe" Resolution: Medical Aid And Transparency In Police Encounters And Investigations

WHEREAS, during an unwarranted arrest for selling loose cigarettes, Staten Island police officers caused unarmed asthmatic Eric Garner's death by asphyxiation, ignoring his repeated cries of "I can't breathe!" while maintaining their lethal chokehold, they made no attempts to resuscitate the unconscious Mr. Garner; and when paramedics arrived, they too made no attempts at resuscitation, as though his life did not matter; and

WHEREAS, during Freddie Gray's unwarranted arrest (for running after making eye contact), Baltimore police officers ignored his requests for an asthma inhaler, not responding to his screams of pain; failed to notify medics or administer aid; dragged him into their van without benefit of a seatbelt, causing him to suffer a crushed larynx and severed spine; drove to the police station (not hospital) after four stops, and he subsequently died; and others have had similar experiences, including 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot (for playing with his toy gun) by a Cleveland, Ohio police officer who failed to administer aid to the dying child; and Walter Scott, shot in the back after an unwarranted stop (for broken tail light) by a North Charleston, SC officer who handcuffed his dying body without checking his pulse; and

WHEREAS, police officers ensure public safety despite the risks; these hardworking public servants have a unique role as trusted peacekeepers; yet between January 1 - April 30, 2015, 384 people died in police custody nationwide, averaging one every 8 hours, including 62 in California (one every 48 hours); and police conduct private, internal investigations, yet residents have the right to a transparent public process;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party supports President Obama's statement: "…we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions,” and we express sorrow and disapproval about unwarranted police killings; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that California Democratic Party supports these principles: (1) that police officers should attempt to mitigate officer-inflicted injuries by: administering emergency aid, handling victims' requests for medical assistance and immediately alerting medical personnel; (2) that in the interest of transparency: residents have the right to videotape police interactions without harassment; and body, dashboard and prisoner compartment cameras should become mandatory police equipment; and (3) that independent investigators and special prosecutors should be appointed in cases of police deadly use of force against nonviolent, unarmed residents.


Sponsored by the Alameda County Democratic Party, African American Caucus, East Bay Black Young Democrats, Oakland East Bay Democratic Club, Castro Valley Democratic Club, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club.

Authored by: Pamela Mays McDonald (AD15)



Adopted by the California Democratic Party
At its May 2015 State Convention
Anaheim Convention Center
May 17, 2015

We need you to be a part of the California Democratic Party's blue wave by Donating Every Month between now and the 2020 Election! LEARN MORE

Stay Informed