• Harold Easter was arrested as part of a narcotics investigation on Jan. 23
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) district attorney said there was no video evidence of Easter ingesting cocaine in the presence of the officers
  • The court has yet to decide whether to criminally charge the officers who left him unattended in the interview room

The North Carolina police released disturbing footage Thursday in which a man arrested on suspicion of drug possession was seen having a seizure and collapsing onto the floor while waiting alone in an interview room.

Harold Easter, who reportedly ingested an excessive amount of cocaine, was rushed to the hospital but died three days later. The court is yet to decide whether to criminally charge the involved Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) officers.

Four CMPD officers and one sergeant, identified as officers Brentley Vinson, Michael Benfield, Michael Joseph and Shon Sheffield, and sergeant Nicholas Vincent, were cited for termination following the Jan. 26 death of the 41-year-old Easter. All of them resigned last month.

Leaving Easter unattended in the interview room was in violation of a policy that deems it necessary to run a medical check on anyone who was suspected of ingesting drugs before the arrest, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said during a press conference following the release of the footage.

The six-hour long video comprised 17 different clips, including a police body-camera video documenting Easter’s Jan. 23 arrest and transport to the CMPD Metro Division Office, his detention in an interview room, and medics working on him after he fell unconscious to the floor, according to Charlotte Observer.

The footage showed Easter speaking incoherently for over 20 minutes before slumping in his chair, then over a table, and onto the floor. "I am going to die," Easter can be heard saying at one point, NBC News reported. He was then rushed to the hospital, where he died three days later.

Speaking at the press conference, Jennings told reporters the involved officers "knew or should have known" the man required medical help and said they should not have left him unattended in the interview room for several minutes.

"It's clear to me that the officers knew — or should have known — based on comments made by the officers, based on comments made from Mr. Easter himself," Jennings said. "There's no doubt in my mind that officers either knew or should have known that he had ingested cocaine."

He also told the reporters Easter might have survived if the officers had acted on time.

"I believe if they had followed policy, we would have at the minimum given Harold Easter a chance." "I can tell you we have a responsibility to at least give him that chance to survive, and that's what officers failed to do. ... I don't believe these officers had malicious intent, but they did make a bad decision and they didn't follow policy. So these bad decisions have consequences, especially when those decisions have contributed to the loss of a life, a life that we had the responsibility to protect. Someone that's in our custody is also in our care."

Prosecutors at the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Easter, who was part of a narcotics investigation, was arrested after cops pulled over his vehicle. The statement said he was being continuously supervised after being placed in the interview room. After he fell on the floor, an officer rushed to the interview room and called for medical help.

It was not immediately clear if Easter consumed the cocaine before or at the arrest scene. Spencer Merriweather, Mecklenburg County District Attorney, said in a report presented to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation on Sept. 21 there was no video of Easter "ingesting any contraband in the presence of the officers" and "no footage containing indisputable admissions by Mr. Easter to officers to having eaten contraband," NBC News reported.

Representational image Steve Buissinne / Pixabay