‘An Absolute Nightmare’: Video shows Tennessee officers taunted hogtied man before he died

"You shouldn't be able to breathe," one officer replied to William Jennette's plea moments before the man's death at the Marshall County Jail in Lewisburg last May.

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Justice advocates on Friday condemned officers at a Tennessee county jail for taunting a hogtied man moments before his death after a local news station published video of the incident.

“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.”
—Seth Stoughton,
use-of-force expert

William Jennette—a 48-year-old white father of five—died on May 6, 2020 at the Marshall County Jail in Lewisburg, Tennessee after a group of officers from multiple law enforcement agencies restrained him and kneeled on his back for several minutes while he screamed for help, WTVF reports.

Video obtained by the Nashville station shows Jennette—who was arrested for alleged public intoxication, indecent exposure, and resisting arrest—yelling, “Help, they’re going to kill me!”

One officer is heard commanding Jennette to “stay down, you stupid son of a bitch.”

The video also shows Jennette repeatedly pleading with officers that he could not breathe.

“You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid bastard,” an officer identified in a lawsuit as Kendra Burton replies.

At least two officers in the video say that Jennette bit them.

At one point in the video an officer sounds a note of caution, telling his colleagues: “Easy, easy—remember asphyxiation, guys.”

To which another officer responds, “That’s why I’m not on his lungs.”

Jennette’s last words were, “I’m good.”

“No, you ain’t good,” an officer replies.

An autopsy (pdf) performed by the Marshall County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Jennette’s death a homicide, listing the cause as “acute combined drug intoxication”—he had methamphetamine in his system—with asphyxia as a “contributory cause of death.”

Despite that finding, a grand jury decided not to indict any of the officers.

Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund called the video “an absolute nightmare,” tweeting: “Grand jury refuses to indict any. That’s how it usually happens.”

One of Jennette’s daughters, Dominque Jennette, filed a lawsuit (pdf) this February against Marshall County, the city of Lewisburg, and several of the officers involved. The suit alleges the officers’ “savage beating” and “suffocation” of Jennette caused his death, and constitute a “deprivation of civil rights” under the Fourteenth Amendment.

“That just breaks my heart because he was someone worth knowing,” his daughter told WTVF. “That’s just something that really sticks with me, how scared he must have been and how alone he must have felt.”

Dominique Jennette said she believes the officers “should have been more aware.”

“They should have been trained properly, and they weren’t,” she added.

Seth Stoughton, a law professor and former police officer, told WTVF that the video shows “the exact opposite of what generally accepted training has taught officers for the last 25 years.”

“When the handcuffs came on, they should have rotated the guy to his side,” asserted Stoughton. “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.”

The video’s release came one day after the Associated Press published footage it obtained of Louisiana state troopers stunning, punching, kicking, choking, and dragging 49-year-old Ronald Greene, who died during a May 2019 arrest following a high-speed chase.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. [” Pardon?? ” An absolutely Nightmare” ?? “Doc Marc Sloan-diagnose Murderx” would declare : This was MURDER by the BLUE-WHITE-DICTATORSHIP, and the responsibility and liability belongs to the Corporations of that Company, as a contractor of the US-Municipal Government Corporation, within the bankrupt UNITED STATE Corporation of America, the CEO-President BIDEN…..4sure, despite this finding, a grand jury decided not to indict any of the officers. Why? It would make out of the profitable Capital-Loss-Declaration, insured, a CAPITAL-CRIME, which is NOT insured. Thus, the grand jury is equally liable and responsible for the crime, in disregard of human rights, Rome Statutes, civil rights of protection, Cetui que vie act and the Constitution of the United States of America, which should protect the people from such animal traffickers and VIOLATORS. Read the “12 books of jisrael-babylonian Talmud” !!“]

  2. [“The clearly demonstrated language of the presentation, speaks clearly what is the cause of all evil: BLUE-WHITE dictatorship and on stupidity and ignorance as re-educated obedience of UNiformed ANIMALS, a satanic, Sabbatianist-Judea-Canibalist Zionist BLUE-WHITE lodge brotherhood dictatorship under old state of war, 1765 aggravated from 1871 with the treaties of the world wars to operate as trade wars, Give me 5 on 5 with 7 officers belonging to the Constellis AKADEMI mercenary force, mindless machines that work, against SOLD=SOLDIERS. What is the goal behind this? To stir up social unrest, because injustice ( UNjustice) is published here, raping and humiliating people’s sense of justice with this PSYOP-WHITE-TERROR show, with tears flowing. It’s all not a coincidence. Scene, the BLUE-WHITE DICTATURE, broadcasting, the number of actors and the STUDIO figure in pink dress, state-bearing facial expressions…For the family members, a serious illegal rape in violation of international law, for the dictatorship system, all according to the script. Mission accomplished. And why was this scene published, if they censor and delete everything so massively, what we are not allowed to know??? PSYOP show time.”]

  3. Their attorney should have the video of Israel police killing the 10 year old Palestinian on a repeat loop to play to the jury….and Floyd…..

  4. At least with a civil suit, they can get treble (3x) damages. I hope their lawyer connects training in Israel with this method of KILLING the person being restrained. Jury is ripe for finding against police in their use of force.

  5. Another bloody bastards. And such jail guards are everywhere. In Russia we have such a crap, too. Filthy Mfkrs…

  6. the people are just as evil and disgusting as the KKKops. you cant brutalize others without brutralizing yourself.

    sick, sick country.

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