May 11, 2021 Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley bring back the Andrew Kearse Act, four years after his death in police custody

The bill would make it a crime for federal law enforcement officers to not obtain or provide medical care to individuals experiencing medical distress in their custody.

Before the words “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry in the wake of George Floyd’s death, there was Andrew Kearse.

Kearse, a Black resident of New York City, died exactly four years ago — May 11, 2017 — from a heart attack in the back of a police cruiser, despite repeatedly pleading to officers for help. Dash camera footage showed the 36-year-old breathing heavily in the back of the car and repeatedly telling officers, “I can’t breathe.” In total, he asked for help 70 times over the course of 17 minutes before falling unconscious. Medical investigators later concluded Kearse would have likely survived if officers more quickly summoned medical assistance.

The City of Schenectady, New York, later paid Kearse’s widow a $1.3 million settlement, though no officers ever faced charges for his death.

Now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley are pushing a bill to change that in case a similar scenario ever occurs again.


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By:  Nik DeCosta-Klipa