FX’s The Weekly: Five stories that the New York Times team should cover next

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4. The mysterious death of Tony Timpa

Probably one of the saddest losses in recent months was the unfortunate death of Tony Timpa. His story caught the attention of a few media outlets but Timpa’s story needs to be told on a larger platform because it’s a necessary one which affects a third of the country.

In August 2016, Tony Timpa called 911 dispatch to request help after he’d consumed cocaine and failed to take his Schizophrenia medication. Timpa called 911 in search of help for his unstable condition but was met by police officers who mocked him at every turn. The confused man was forcefully restrained by police as they joked when Timpa pleaded for his life.

Shortly after pleading for the officers to release him, the bodycam footage shows Timpa going limp. He becomes unresponsive while the officers on duty continue to make fun of him, cracking jokes about the first day of school as well as the “Greek Oaks Cocktail”. That remark was a reference to the local psychiatric hospital in the area.

While all of the joshing around is taking place, no one attempts to perform CPR on Timpa or check his breathing. It’s when the paramedics arrive that they start inquiring about his breathing. One officer can be heard saying that he hopes he didn’t kill him [Timpa] but that’s when the paramedic on board the ambulance confirms that Timpa was dead already.

There are controversies surrounding Timpa’s death because conflicting reports have been released. Most of the written reports—including one from the New York Times themselves—read that Timpa died from cardiac arrest. The exact cause has been deemed “toxic effects of cocaine and stress associated with physical restraint” but there’s a problem with that explanation.

Following the release of the bodycam footage, Timpa’s mother did an interview with the Dallas Morning News where she reacted to her son’s horrific death. She had a very emotional reaction and touched on some good points at the same time. But the one thing she said which stuck out the most was something not included in most reports.

At about 3:22 seconds into the video, Vicky Timpa says that an officer injected her son with a sedative. The clip released by CBS News doesn’t show the officer making this action nor does it seem to be factored into Timpa’s cause of death on other reports either.

What’s written down as the reasons are cocaine and physical stress, without any mention of the sedative delivered by the officer restraining Timpa. It’s unclear why Timpa’s mother would make such a claim on video when the coroner’s report says otherwise but perhaps an explanation will be learned of in due time.

Beyond the controversies themselves, the death of Tony Timpa was still deemed unnecessary and likely avoidable. The troubling aspect is that the officers who responded to Timpa’s cries for help are back on duty. They suffered discipline from their department for misconduct but these officers are still on the streets despite their callous actions.

Knowing that, The Weekly’s team of investigative journalists should definitely take the time to give Tony Timpa the report he deserves. The Times has already written one on Timpa’s death but the young man’s untimely demise needs to be examined more thoroughly.