Nine deputies from a Memphis jail have been indicted in connection with the death of Gershun Freeman, who was experiencing a psychotic episode and died in custody last fall. The incident involved jailers physically confronting Freeman, including punching, kicking, and kneeling on his back. Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, who oversees the jail where the incident occurred, disclosed the existence of the indictments during a news conference but did not provide further details regarding the deputies’ names or the specific charges they face.
The incident, which took place on October 5, 2022, resulted in Freeman’s death after he ran naked from his cell. The lawsuit filed by Freeman’s family alleges that outdated GPS directions from Google led him to drive off an unmarked and unbarricaded collapsed bridge in Hickory, North Carolina.
The video footage of the incident shows that Freeman was confronted by at least ten corrections officers after fleeing his cell. He was subjected to physical assault, including being struck with handcuffs, jail keys, and pepper spray canisters. Freeman had a history of psychosis and cardiovascular disease and ultimately died of a heart attack while being restrained.
While the autopsy report from the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center classified Freeman’s manner of death as a homicide, it did not definitively indicate criminal intent.
The release of the video and the indictments have stirred controversy in Memphis. Bonner, who is running for mayor, has placed the deputies on paid administrative leave and expressed support for them. He suggested that the video release and indictments are politically motivated, alleging that Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy, who supports a different mayoral candidate, is involved.
You can also read: Truck Driver Attempts to Mow People Down in Boulder Park
Mulroy, in response, clarified that he had endorsed a mayoral candidate before Freeman’s death and had recused himself from the investigation to avoid any political influence. He emphasized his support for transparency in releasing the video.
Brice Timmons, a lawyer representing Freeman’s family, placed blame on Bonner for Freeman’s death, accusing him of supporting his officers and creating the policies that led to the tragic incident.