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PRONE: At least 121 people across the U.S. have died while held prone by officers. Why?

9Wants to Know has a database of people who have died handcuffed, facedown and under the knees of officers.

Chris Vanderveen

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At least 26 said, “I can’t breathe.” Most were mentally ill.  Nearly two-thirds were either Black or Hispanic. 

At least one name on our list is well-known: George Floyd.

There’s a decent chance you might not recognize any of the 120 other names.

All died the same way; handcuffed, facedown, and under the knees, elbows and bodies of people trying to restrain them.

More than two decades after the U.S. Department of Justice warned officers of the potential dangers of prolonged prone restraint, 9NEWS spent 18 months examining autopsy reports, court filings and body cameras recordings looking for patterns within the noise.

> Video above: Watch the full 9Wants to Know investigation "PRONE" by Reporter Chris Vanderveen and Photojournalist Chris Hansen. 

The first-of-its-kind review – initiated months before the death of George Floyd -- has already prompted police departments in Denver and Minneapolis to retrain their officers.

And yet the cases continue. Since Floyd’s death, six more have died following prone restraint.

The solution is mind numbingly simple. Once someone facedown is handcuffed, the officers above need to turn the person below 90 degrees.

One police trainer who works with officers across the country told us he’s considered putting it on the dashboards of police cruisers or tattooing it on the backs of officers’ hands.

“Get of them. Get them in a position that facilities breathing,” Jack Ryan said.

That simple advice, he said, will absolutely save lives.

And, at the very least, it will shield cities and counties from oftentimes massive financial liabilities.

Our database includes more than $126 million in settlements and verdicts.