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7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: He called the police for help - so how did he end up dying?

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. ‘You’re gonna kill me!’

Tony Timpa was an American man who called the police for help one night as he hadn’t taken his prescription mental health medication, and had taken illegal drugs. But when the police came, they pinned him to the ground as he shouted ‘You’re gonna kill me!’. Newly released body cam footage shows the traumatic experience that culminated in his death.

(Dallas News, approx 15 mins reading time)

The News obtained Dallas Police Department body camera footage after a three-year fight for records related to Timpa’s death. A federal judge ruled Monday in favor of a motion by The News and NBC5 to release records from his death, saying “the public has a compelling interest in understanding what truly took place during a fatal exchange between a citizen and law enforcement.”

2. The fire

The worst fire in California’s history happened last year. This essay is about how “decades of greed, neglect, corruption and bad politics” led to it.

(California Sunday Magazine, approx 61 mins reading time)

It was empty now, and it was filled up. Scorched trees and felled trees, burnt shells of cars and melted piles of twisted corrugated tin, ashes of businesses, ashes of houses, ashes of people had become its own place. There were stretches of the Skyway where fire had not touched what the townsfolk had built, but these stretches had been altered, too, turned into things no longer recognizable by the things that were missing. Brick chimneys stood guard over the voids like giant middle fingers.

3. I thrive on stress

Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes about how, in a world where people want to embrace mindfulness and calm, she works best when stressed.

(Real Simple, approx 15 mins reading time)

We make eye contact when she says this. I narrow my eyes slightly and purse my lips and nod thoughtfully, and I wonder what she would do if she knew what was going on in my cloudy-sky mind right now. I wonder what she would do if she knew I had no intention of stopping my thoughts. I wonder what she would do if she knew about my thoughts about my thoughts—how I was thinking these thoughts about thoughts when they were supposed to be drifting away like clouds. I think if she knew, the roof would blow off this entire purple studio.

4. Risking life and limb to catalogue plants

Erin Zimmerman writes about dodging snakes and climbing cliffs in order to catalogue the world’s plants.

(Narratively, approx 15 mins reading time)

One of the field assistants who has stayed below circles around and cuts a path through the dense forest near the top of the falls. It’s an alternate way out, but we still have to get up to the head of the trail he’s cut. That means climbing a near-vertical wall of wet cut-grass, a plant named for its hand-slicing capacity. I press myself into it, grab the cut-grass and try to scramble up. Anytime I stop scrambling for a moment, I start to backslide, slipping down the grassy wall toward the huge boulders and rushing water below.

5. Inventing surgery to cure himself

Doug Lindsay was 21 when he was struck by a mysterious illness that his mother had also suffered from. Soon, he could barely walk due to dizziness and weakness. He was determined to find out what was wrong – and set off on a journey of discovery.

(CNN, approx 10 mins reading time)

The former high school track athlete had dreamed of becoming a biochemistry professor or maybe a writer for “The Simpsons.” Instead, he would spend the next 11 years mostly confined to a hospital bed in his living room in St. Louis, hamstrung by a mysterious ailment. Doctors were baffled. Treatments didn’t help. And Lindsay eventually realized that if he wanted his life back, he would have to do it himself.

6. Strange delivery

He was a respected obstetrician – until nurses noticed something unusual about the way he delivered babies.

(Toronto Life, approx 23 mins reading time)

But the patients all said they hadn’t been induced, and their charts showed no indication of induction, either. What those five women had in common was their doctor: Paul Shuen, a highly respected ob-gyn and gynaecological oncologist. The nurses figured it must have had something to do with him. Staff wrote up a formal report of the incident and passed it up the chain of command.


This story about Mark and Delia Owens and their role in the death of a hunter has gone viral because Delia Owens’ bestselling book Where the Crawdads Sing, bears some similarities to what happened.

(New Yorker, approx 75 mins reading time)

The Owenses’ other work—funding modest businesses, beginning a program to educate children about the wildlife near their villages—seemed to be paying more impressive dividends. Vollers quoted Delia as saying, “Imagine us walking into these primitive villages where the children are hungry, and saying: ‘If you stop shooting wild animals, tourists from America will come, and you’ll have jobs and food.’ We thought they’d look at us like we were crazy. But they’ve caught on.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>  

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