Disturbing video shows a Tennessee man desperately gasping for air as several corrections officers and police officers press into his back and taunt him — just minutes before he died.
The footage, obtained Thursday by WTVF, shows William Jennette, 48, struggling to breathe as he wrestled with multiple officers at the Marshall County Jail last May, after he refused to get into a restraint chair.
“Go get leg restraints before you do anything else, go get leg restraints,” one officer says as others were atop Jennette’s back.
Seconds later, Jennette, a father of five, said he couldn’t breathe, prompting a female officer to taunt him.
“You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid bastard,” the officer said.
The officers continued to forcibly restrain Jennette, who was handcuffed, until one deputy reminded his colleagues about the risk of asphyxia as the man gasped for air, the disturbing footage shows.
“That’s why I’m not on his lungs,” an officer replies.
Jennette then told the officers “I’m good,” apparently indicating he was ready to comply, but one of the cops on top of him said that wasn’t the case.
“No you ain’t good, you’re going to lay right there for a f—king minute,” the video shows.
Jennette died minutes later, WTVF reported, and a medical examiner ruled his death a homicide from “acute combined drug intoxication” due to methamphetamine in his system with “asphyxia” as a contributing factor.
A grand jury reportedly declined to charge any of the officers involved, but Jennette’s daughter is suing the county, the city of Lewisburg and seven officers and deputies for the man’s “beating, suffocation and resultant death,” according to the report.
“That just breaks my heart because he was someone worth knowing,” Dominique Jennette told the station of her father. “That’s just something that really sticks with me, how scared he must have been and how alone he must have felt.”
Two days earlier, Jennette had been “hallucinating” while “detoxing” after being taken into custody for public intoxication, resisting arrest and indecent exposure, WTVF reported, citing jail logs.
A law enforcement use-of-force expert and former cop said the footage showed the “exact opposite” of generally accepted policing practices in place for the past 25 years.
“When the handcuffs came on, they should have rotated the guy to his side,” University of South Carolina law professor Seth Stoughton told WTVF.
The officers kept Jennette in the prone position for nearly four minutes after getting him in handcuffs, Stoughton said.
“And that’s not acceptable,” he told the station.
Lewisburg Mayor Jim Bingham, meanwhile, told The Post in a statement Friday that Jennette was “extremely unruly” and verbally and physically aggressive with deputies at the jail prior to his death, prompting a call for assistance from Lewisburg cops.
City officials later that day learned of Jennette’s death, which led to an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that ended a few months later, Bingham said.
The mayor declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, citing advice from the city’s counsel.
“Mr. Jennette’s passing as a result of him being in the jail is indeed unfortunate,” Bingham said. “We respect the right of Mr. Jennette’s family to address his loss [through] their civil action. And, we are confident that the judicial system will provide a fair and just outcome for all parties involved in the lawsuit.”
An attorney for the county and the seven officers named in the suit did not respond to inquiries by the Washington Post early Friday, the newspaper reported.