Three deputies from the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Department have been placed on administrative leave after several videos surfaced depicting the officers torturing an 18-year-old inmate in 2016.
The inmate, Jordan Elias Norris, now 19, has filed a civil rights lawsuit for his treatment at the hands of three deputies, who strapped Norris to a chair and shocked him dozens of times with a Taser stun device.
Norris’ lawsuit accuses “the deputies of deprivation of civil rights, citing the use of excessive force and failure to protect after he was repeatedly stunned with Tasers in the jail in November 2016,” according to the Tennessean. “He suffered more than 40 pairs of Taser burns, many of which are unaccounted for by authorities, the lawsuit states.” [Emphasis added]
The incident was caught on jail surveillance video, in which one deputy can be heard saying “I’ll keep doing it until I run out of batteries.”:
“I said ‘Jordan, what is that?’ It looked like he had the measles,” Norris’ step-father, William Chapman, told Channel 5 News, a local Tennessee news station. “And he said ‘that’s where they tased me.’ I could not wrap my mind around that.”
“I was actually giving the police the benefit of the doubt over my own child, because I’m thinking ‘He must have been fighting back; he must have been resisting,’” Chapman added.
Norris, however, could not have offered significant resistance the entire time he was tased, as the surveillance footage shows he was tied up in a restraint chair, unable to fight back.
“When I found out that he was actually strapped to a restraint chair, it was even more mind boggling, Chapman said. “It didn’t make any sense.”
The incident started after Norris, who was being held on marijuana and weapons charges, began “banging his head against the door” of his cell and was “combative with the other inmates,” according to an incident report issued by the sheriff’s department. Norris told the deputies he was feeling suicidal at the time.
After the deputies were unable to calm Norris, the incident report continues, he was removed from his cell and placed in a restraint chair. His family’s lawsuit alleges Norris was later treated to a second round of tasing after he was placed on suicide watch, still strapped into the chair.
“We think that the tapes speak for themselves,” defense attorney Ben Raybin said.
Norris was eventually taken to the hospital in a patrol car; video footage suggests he was in a confused mental state at the time. As a woman off-screen attempts to reassure him and explain what’s happening, Norris is heard saying “I’m going to get beat up.” He was taken to a mental health facility after attempting to escape from the patrol car.
Cheatham Country Sheriff Mike Breedlove has requested an independent investigation of the incident by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations.
“As Sheriff, I want our citizens to know that any inappropriate behavior that may have violated an individual’s rights will not be tolerated,” Breedlove said in a statement. “I have placed the employees involved on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted.”
Breedlove also claims the deputies followed procedure.
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