State Watch

Video shows officer saying ‘you shouldn’t be able to breathe’ moments before jailed man’s death

Body camera footage obtained by a local Tennessee outlet showed law enforcement officials told a jailed man they restrained, “you shouldn’t be able to breathe” shortly before he died. 

When William Jennette, 48, refused to get into a restraint chair in a Marshall County Jail, the jailers called Lewisburg Police for backup, NewsChannel 5 Nashville reported.

The footage of the incident, obtained by the news source, shows officers yelling at the man as he tells them he can’t breathe.

“You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid bastard,” a female officer can be heard saying, according to the outlet.

Jennette was arrested two days prior to the incident for resisting arrest, public intoxication and indecent exposure. He was “detoxing” and “hallucinating,” according to jail log records.

Officers kept a knee to Jennette’s back while one spoke up and said: “Easy, easy — remember asphyxiation, guys,” the footage shows, according to NewsChannel 5. 

“That’s why I’m not on his lungs, to let him breathe,” an officer replied.

The last thing Jennette said before his death was “I’m good” when an officer yelled back at him saying “No, you ain’t good. You’re going to lay right there for a fucking minute.”

The cause of death, according to the autopsy, was “acute combined drug intoxication” caused by meth.

However, it was also ruled a homicide, listing “asphyxia” as a “contributory cause of death.” 

A lawsuit has been filed against the officers, county and the city by Jennette’s daughter for the “beating, suffocation and resultant death” of her father, the local outlet reported.

“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.

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