MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — George Floyd’s death brings up haunting memories for the family of another man who died during an arrest by Minneapolis police.

David Smith died while he was handcuffed and held down at a downtown YMCA in September of 2010.

The Smith family settled with the City of Minneapolis with the promise that all officers would be trained on the dangers of positional asphyxia.

Police said they were called to the YMCA to remove Smith. Pen camera video shows two officers putting Smith face down after using a taser on him. One officer kept a knee on his back. 

Eventually, David stopped responding.

“There was just no regard for his life,” Angela Smith, David’s sister, said. 

Angela says she has been reliving her brother’s death in the wake of George Floyd’s.

“The only thing we were left with was to make sure it didn’t happen to anyone else,” she said. 

The officers involved were not charged.

A year and a half after David’s death, the Minneapolis Police Department posted a training video for officers regarding positional asphyxiation, saying in part: “there is a direct correlation between a person’s ability to breathe and the position their body is in”. 

The City of Minneapolis paid the Smith family $3 million, Angela now wants to know if MPD also fulfilled the settlement agreement to have all officers trained on the dangers of positional asphyxiation.

Chief Medaria Arradondo was asked about David’s case during a press conference on police reforms Wednesday.

 “In terms of Mr. Smith’s family, obviously we’ll look at our training, we’ll continue to look at it,” Chief Arradondo said. 

Angela is hopeful this time there will be change.

“I feel like this time is different,” Angela said. “People are not willing to stand by and say it’s OK that black lives don’t matter because black lives do matter.”

WCCO asked Minneapolis Police if their officers received that training. A spokesperson directed us to fill out a data practices request, which we did. WCCO is now waiting for that request to be fulfilled.

Kate Raddatz

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