Last October, the Los Angeles City Council committee approved a nearly $3 million settlement to his family, and a recently posted video explains why.
The upsetting footage was not previously released to the public as a protective order barred its release, but a copy was obtained and made public by ProPublica.
In the footage, Howard is seen being handcuffed to a jail bench, his shirt open from just having been strip searched. He is seen becoming agitated before police arrive, remove the handcuffs, and escort him to see a nurse on staff. He told police that he was a paranoid schizophrenic and that he had not been taking his medications. The police believed that he was high on cocaine.
Howard and the police move out of the view of the surveillance cameras briefly, where a struggle ensued.
When Howard and the officers reappear on camera he is seen attempting to get away. The LAPD claims that Howard attempted to bite Officer Juan Romero. Howard is then thrown violently to the ground, tased five times, and dogpiled by six officers who handcuff and shackle him.
Officers described Howard as having "super human strength," in court documents.
One officer is seen on top of Howard, a knee in the latter’s back. Officer Romero is seen with his arm around Howard’s throat.
Eventually, emergency medical personnel arrive and, for eight more minutes, attempt to save him before placing him into an ambulance.
“Mr. Howard posed no threat whatsoever,” V. James DeSimone, the lawyer representing Howard’s children, told ProPublica. “He was down on the ground, six officers on top of him, no guns in the nearby vicinity executing a chokehold where there was no threat to the officers or to anybody else. It’s out of policy, it’s unlawful, and in this case it’s murder.”
Officer Romero was suspended for 22 days over the deadly chokehold, but prosecutors opted not to charge him and defended his actions in court filings.
“Given what were indisputably tense and rapidly evolving circumstances, Officer Romero’s decision to apply and upper body hold on the decedent was justified,” the filing said.
"He wasn't going anywhere," DeSimone told CNN after the settlement last year. "There was just no reason to choke this man out. They treated him like someone whose life didn't matter."