The family of a man who died in police custody more than a year before Eric Garner’s death is suing the NYPD, alleging officers beat the 52-year-old during an arrest and later refused to get him medical attention when he said he couldn’t breathe.
Irving Mizell died in police custody on March 7, 2013, after he was arrested for allegedly violating a protection order filed by an estranged girlfriend by knocking on the door to her Staten Island apartment.
Mizell's family says that they think he was taken to a stairwell during the arrest, where they say he was beaten out of sight of surveillance cameras.
Later on, while being booked at a police precinct, the family says, officers allegedly refused to get him medical attention when he complained about having difficulty breathing, only calling an ambulance when he collapsed in a cell.
“It’s horrible,” Mizell’s brother George said. “My brother died in fear.”
The medical examiner’s office ruled that Mizell’s death was accidental and was caused by a heart attack.
But the Citizens Complaint Review Board, an independent city agency that investigates complaints against the police department, said there is evidence that one officer used excessive force and that two others didn’t get Mizell medical help when they should have.
The city’s law department said it had yet to review the case, and the NYPD Wednesday refused to comment.
The three officers remain on active duty.
The officers work in the same precinct as the cops accused of putting Garner in a chokehold while trying to cuff him for selling untaxed single cigarettes. Garner, who was pronounced dead shortly after his arrest, could be heard on cellphone video from the scene saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Mizell’s brother said that hearing about Garner’s death earlier this month struck an emotional chord.
"I cried, especially when he said he couldn't breathe,” George Mizell said. “Because that's what everybody told me they heard my brother say.”