“You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid bastard.”
On May 4, 2020, William Jennette was arrested for public intoxication.
On May 6, inside the Marshall County Jail in Lewisburg, Tennessee, seven sheriff’s deputies and local police restrained him while he was detoxing.
They cut off his breathing with a knee on his back.
He repeatedly told them that he couldn’t breath, but the officers taunted him as he died.
Their excuse this time? He was on drugs. But here’s what the medical examiner’s autopsy report actually says:
Cause of Death: Acute combined drug intoxication (methamphetamine and diphenhydramine)
Contributory Cause of Death: Asphyxia
Manner of Death: HomicideReport of Investigation by County Medical Examiner, Case Number MEC20-1468, Date: 2021.05.14. Office of the Medical Examiner, Center for Forensic Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.
You just need to read the final word of that quote:
And, guess what:
The grand jury refused to charge any of the cops who killed him.
And in their defense against the family’s federal civil lawsuit against them?
And that’s how America’s criminal-industrial complex works.
Here’s the story from a local news source Nashville’s NewsChannel5. I’ve left out the video footage, but it’s at the NewsChannel 5 website if you need to watch it for yourself.
From NewsChannel 5, Nashville, TN:
‘You shouldn’t be able to breathe,’ officer tells man before he dies
Posted: 12:23 PM, May 20, 2021
Updated: 7:51 AM, May 21, 2021
By: Ben Hall
Video shows officers on man’s back for several minutes before he died in the Marshall County Jail.
LEWISBURG, Tenn. (WTVF) — He repeatedly told deputies he could not breathe.
But the deputies and police officers he struggled with taunted him until he died.
An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation is raising questions about the death of William Jennette last May inside the Marshall County Jail in Lewisburg, Tennessee.
His daughter has filed a lawsuit against the county, the city of Lewisburg and several officers for the “beating, suffocation and resultant death” of Jennette.
Video obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates shows three Marshall County jailers called for police back-up on May 6 of last year after Jennette refused to get into a restraint chair.
When Lewisburg Police Officer Christopher Stallings ran into the room, Jennette yelled that corrections officers were trying to kill him.
Officers wrestled Jennette to the floor where he died minutes later.
“That just breaks my heart because he was someone worth knowing,” said his daughter, Dominique Jennette.
The daughter said her 48-year-old father was terrified and desperately needed help.
“That’s just something that really sticks with me, how scared he must have been and how alone he must have felt,” Jennette said.
Jail logs show Jennette had been “hallucinating” and “detoxing” after being arrested two days earlier for resisting arrest, public intoxication and indecent exposure.
Unedited body cam video:
Officers had put him in a restraint chair the day before for his own protection because he was hitting his head on the cell wall.
Then, on May 6, officers tried again, and jail cameras show things escalated quickly.
“They should have been more aware. They should have been trained properly and they weren’t,” Dominique Jennette said.
Much of her lawsuit focuses on what happened after officers wrestled her father to the ground.
Jennette screamed for officers to get off his back. He was face down on the floor in handcuffs continuing to struggle.
“Go get leg restraints before you do anything else, go get leg restraints,” an officer said as officers were on Jennette’s back.
Seconds later, Jennette said for the first time he could not breathe.
But a female officer was not sympathetic.
“You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid b*****d,” she exclaimed.
Officers stayed on Jennette’s back and even bent his legs to his back, until finally one officer said be careful of suffocating him.
“Easy, easy — remember asphyxiation, guys.”
Another officer responded, “That’s why I’m not on his lungs, to let him breathe.”
Jennette’s last words were: “I’m good.”
But an officer with his knee on Jennette’s back talked back to him.
“No, you ain’t good. You’re going to lay right there for a f*****g minute,” the officer said.
We showed the video to law professor and former police officer Seth Stoughton. He’s co-written a book, “Evaluating Police Uses of Force.”
“That’s the exact opposite of what generally accepted training has taught officers for the last 25 years,” Stoughton said.
“When the handcuffs came on, they should have rotated the guy to his side.”
He was disturbed by what he saw in the video.
Stoughton said police officers have been trained since the mid-1990s about the dangers of positional asphyxiation — suffocating someone by putting pressure on their back while they are in what’s called the prone position.
“There’s approximately a three-minute, 43-second period after officers have applied handcuffs where they keep the individual in the prone position, and that’s not acceptable,” Stoughton said.
Jennette’s daughters remember their dad as a father of five, who drove a cement truck to support them.
He had been arrested before but did not have a long rap sheet.
“All he wanted was help and all he got was hate. It’s not right,” said daughter Calli Jennette.
Dominique Jennette added, “There were so many who could have said this wasn’t right, and no one said this wasn’t right,”
The autopsy listed the cause of death as “acute combined drug intoxication” with meth in his system.
But it also listed “asphyxia” as a “contributory cause of death” and ruled it a homicide.
“It just feels like my heart is constantly being ripped out of my chest, and there’s no peace to that,” Dominique Jennette said.
The family hopes other departments learn from what happened to their dad.
“I want to go home, and I can’t go home, because he’s not there to take me home anymore,” Calli Jennette said.
A grand jury looked at this case but decided not to bring criminal charges against the officers.
The sheriff and the attorney for the county in this case did comment on what happened.
Public Records Request
Video from Marshall County Jail
From The Tumalo Lookout:
Too many American cops are no better than criminals.
Half of law enforcement is below average, whether you’re measuring their intelligence, their compassion, or their integrity.
And another 34 percent of them are only questionably better than that.
If that’s true — and I’m sticking to it until America forces true, detailed transparence on the entire profession of law enforcement — then that really only leaves about 15 percent of all cops that you can really look up to, trust, and respect.