The family of Brian Connely Jr. said Wednesday that he might be alive today if Pascagoula police officers had called for medical assistance as soon as he collapsed outside the U.S. 90 Waffle House.
“When I got to the emergency room, the doctor that was on call said there was nothing they could do for him,” said Connely’s father, Brian Connely Sr. “They said he’d been without oxygen for 30 minutes, that he was dead on arrival.”
Pascagoula Police Chief Kenny Johnson said Wednesday that it’s premature to speculate about what happened to Connely. “The main thing we need to know is the cause of death,” he said. “Hopefully that will answer a lot of questions for the family about what caused this young man to suddenly die. Anything else would be total speculation at this point.”
Pascagoula police and the District Attorney’s Office are investigating the death of Connely, 34, of Moss Point. Johnson said Connely was handcuffed outside the business when he collapsed shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Johnson said authorities hope to know more about what happened as soon as they are able to subpoena video surveillance tapes from the Waffle House that could shed light on the events in and outside the business. In addition, he said, police are currently rounding up dispatch logs to determine when the first 911 call came in about the fight and when medical responders were called to the scene.
Johnson, however, maintains that the police officers on the scene acted appropriately. He said they called for help as soon as they determined that Connely was in distress.
The results of the investigation, District Attorney Tony Lawrence said, will be presented to a Jackson County grand jury. Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus said Tuesday that an autopsy was pending.
A woman and her fiance’ who had gone to the business to eat breakfast Tuesday morning said they witnessed the whole thing. The woman, Christina Toups, a former police dispatcher in Gulfport, said police officers did nothing to help Connely after he collapsed, instead saying that he was faking his condition. The police officers, she said, also left Connely sitting face up in the rain for some time before propping him up against a wall, though his body was limp and his eyes were rolling back in his head.