Quam Ahmodu Should Still Be Alive Today: Family of Brooklyn Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Speaks Out, and Demands Justice for their Son
Young Nigerian Man in Flatlands, Brooklyn Screamed “I Can’t Breathe” Repeatedly, and Asked for Oxygen as NYPD Officers and EMT Let Him Die
Brooklyn, New York – Quam Ahmodu, a 24 year-old Nigerian immigrant, died in police custody in his family’s home in Flatlands, Brooklyn on October 23.
His father Wasiu Ahmodu is speaking out today after seeing the NYPD spread false reports in the media about Quam’s death.
Mr. Ahmodu's statements today about his son Quam's death follow on the heels of an in-depth interview he did with BuzzFeed News.
Mr. Ahmodu is not only setting the record straight; he is also demanding that the NYPD officers and EMT who denied Quam’s repeated requests for oxygen, and let him die, lose their jobs and face criminal charges.
“Recent news reports falsely suggest Quam’s name was not released because we needed to be notified. We were present when Quam died in our home, and at the hospital when he was officially declared dead. I want everyone to know what really happed to Quam and how he died at the hands of NYPD and EMT officers. He should still be alive today,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“Around 4 a.m. on the morning of the 23rd, Quam was having what seemed like an emotional crisis. He wanted to go outside, but my wife, daughter, nephew, and I all pleaded with Quam to stay inside with us. He was not doing well emotionally. After voluntarily admitting himself to Kings County Hospital for psychiatric care a few days earlier, he had been discharged and told by his doctor there he was sleep deprived and needed to rest,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“When my family and I felt that we could no longer ensure Quam’s safety in our house, we called 911 for help on the morning of October 23. My daughter spoke to a 911 operator and asked for an ambulance to take Quam to Kings County Hospital. But the first responders were the police. At least six NYPD officers came to my home. Some carried shields, but Quam was not violent. He just needed medical attention. We had called for an ambulance to bring him to the hospital. The police handcuffed Quam almost immediately upon arriving at my home, even though Quam did not pose a threat to anyone. An EMT arrived soon after the police,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“While Quam was handcuffed on the couch in our living room, he started to scream, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” over and over again. He told the police and EMT that he was a registered nurse, that he couldn’t breathe, and that he needed oxygen. He continued to say he couldn’t breathe for several minutes. He even said he thought he was having an asthma attack and pleaded with the police and EMT for oxygen. For at least five minutes, the police officers and EMT did nothing in response to my son’s cries. The only thing the EMT did was bring Quam a face mask with no oxygen tank attached,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“My wife begged the NYPD officers to take the handcuffs off Quam and to help him as he kept saying he couldn’t breathe. My nephew begged the NYPD officers to loosen the handcuffs on Quam, which were leaving marks because they were so tight. The fact that Quam was cuffed was also making it hard for him to breathe. I asked the officers why we were still in our living room and not going to the hospital. We had called for an ambulance because Quam was not doing well, and now it was worse because he couldn’t breathe – but the officers and EMT did nothing to help him,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“An officer told me that they were waiting for an EMS ambulance to administer a sedating shot. But by this point, I noticed that Quam was slouched over and had urinated in his pants. At first, I thought my son was sleeping. I realize now that he wasn’t sleeping – he wasn’t moving because he may have already been dead, or close to death at this point. It made no sense that the officers were insisting that he needed to be sedated when he was no longer moving, and they should have been checking his pulse, checking his breathing and administering CPR,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“When the officers wouldn’t move, my nephew picked up Quam and put him on the stretcher. The officers and EMT didn’t even help bring Quam to the stretcher. Quam’s lifeless body was brought to the ambulance in handcuffs. When the EMS paramedic finally arrived, he checked for Quam’s pulse. This was the first time anyone checked his pulse since he had stopped moving and became unresponsive. The paramedic was shocked to discover that Quam had no pulse and was handcuffed. He demanded that the police remove the handcuffs and started administering CPR,” said Mr. Ahmodu
“When Quam was taken by paramedics to Mt. Sinai hospital in Brooklyn, he was already dead. My wife and I were in the emergency room praying for a miracle that never came. We were informed by medical personnel at Mt. Sinai that Quam had died 40 minutes earlier, when he was in our home. My family had relied on the city’s first responders to support us in our time of need. But the city failed us,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“Instead of bringing my son to the hospital, the NYPD and EMT caused my son’s death. They cuffed him without cause, failed to give him the oxygen he needed and refused to act to save his life. Quam just needed to get to the hospital. Our family demands to know why the police officers and EMT allowed Quam to die in our living room and made no attempts to save his life,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
“My family demands to know why Quam died in the custody of NYPD officers and EMT personnel. We want all their names released publicly by the city. These NYPD officers and EMT personnel should be fired and criminally charged. Quam should still be alive today. I don’t want another family to go through what we’ve been through and lose a loved one because they called 911,” said Mr. Ahmodu.
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.
CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.