Lewisburg, TN — When he was arrested, William Jennette hadn’t harmed anyone, robbed anyone, stolen anything, or threatened anyone. Jennette had a substance abuse problem and needed medical intervention. However, because substance abuse problems are handled with police violence in the land of the free, two days after he was arrested for his addiction, Jennette would be killed in jail — taunted by deputies who squeezed the air from his lungs during his last moments alive.
According to police, Jennette was arrested for public intoxication after he was reportedly caught urinating outside. During the arrest, police also charged him with resisting. Jennette needed a medical intervention as he was detoxing, and instead, he received untrained cops whose only tool is violence.
Two days into his jail stay, jail logs show Jennette began hallucinating as he began to detox. Detoxing — especially from alcohol — can sometimes prove to be an extremely harsh and even fatal experience. By any medical definition, Jennette needed help. Instead of help, however, cops used a restraint chair the first day and on the second, they used violence and ignorance.
Local News Channel 5 obtained the video of Jennette’s last moments alive and it’s nothing short of horrifying.
As the video shows, Jennette is refusing to be placed in the restraint chair so deputies swarm the father of two. As the multiple deputies, some who appear to be over 300 pounds, slam Jennette to the floor, Jennette screams out, “they’re trying to kill me!” Just a few minutes later, and this statement would tragically ring true.
As the officers put hundreds of pounds of their weight on his back Jennette struggled to breathe and begged them to get off. He was handcuffed and face down, posing no threat at all, but the officers continued to squeeze the air from his lungs while placing him in leg restraints.
“Go get leg restraints before you do anything else, go get leg restraints,” an officer said.
As Jennette tells them he can’t breathe, one of the officers began mocking him.
“You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid bastard,” the officer yelled, clearly illustrating that she knew they were squeezing the air from his lungs.
One officer in room started to realize that all their weight may be killing Jennette so he warned the other officers about suffocating him.
“Easy, easy — remember asphyxiation, guys.”
“That’s why I’m not on his lungs, to let him breathe,” an officer said ignoring the fact that simply applying pressure on the back with the person in a prone position is enough to suffocate someone.
Because begging the officer to get off his back and telling them he couldn’t breathe didn’t work, Jennette tried one last time to get the officers off of him by saying, “I’m good.” These were his last words.
“No, you ain’t good. You’re going to lay right there for a f*****g minute,” an officer said as they kept their knees on his back.
Moments later, Jennette would stop breathing and die.
News Channel 5 showed the video to a former police officer Seth Stoughton who said police did the exact opposite of what they were trained to do in this situation.
“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.”
“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.
Sadly, the officers’ ignorance and tendency toward violence got the best of them and they killed a man who needed medical help. Jennette’s daughter’s have since filed a lawsuit against the city and the jail over their father’s death.
“All he wanted was help and all he got was hate. It’s not right,” said daughter Calli Jennette.
“There were so many who could have said this wasn’t right, and no one said this wasn’t right,” Dominique Jennette said.
According to the report, the autopsy listed “drug intoxication” as the cause of death. Thought it listed asphyxia as a contributing factor, the main cause was enough to exonerate the officers. None of them were disciplined or charged.