It was the ring on the emergency system that Air Force investigators believe Haney was struggling to find and pull as he turned his jet into a dive from 51,000 feet and flew nearly straight into the ground in 2010.
Moments before, a still unidentified malfunction caused Haney's ECS to shut down and he lost all oxygen to his mask.
In the full, nearly 1,000-page version of the crash report obtained by ABC News through a Freedom of Information Act request, Air Force officials noted that the ring Haney was meant to pull to give himself air was hard to see and, if he dropped the ring during a failed pull, he would have had "significant difficulty" retrieving it from between the seat and console.
The report still concluded "by clear and convincing evidence" that Haney was at fault in the crash, saying he was likely distracted by trying to activate the manual back-up system and did not properly fly the plane.
The Air Force said Haney was not believed to be unconscious due to lack of oxygen at any point in his ordeal -- a claim strongly disputed by his family and questioned by other F-22 pilots, aviation experts and the Pentagon's own Inspector General, who has launched a rare review of the Air Force investigation. Haney's family said it was more likely he was unconscious due to lack of oxygen at least part of the time and, therefore, could not be held responsible for the crash.
Whatever happened in Capt. Jeff Haney's last moments, no one disputes that his ECS shut down at 51,000 feet and, for about a minute until his death, he could not breathe.