Who was William Jennette?
William Jennette is a jailed father-of-five who died after being pinned to the ground by police and correctional officers while he was in custody in Lewisburg, south of Nashville, on May 6 last year. Surveillance and bodycam footage shows Tennessee police officers telling him that he ‘shouldn’t be able to breathe’ as they restrained him just moments before he suffocated to death.
Disturbing video of William’s last moments in police custody has been published, showing him repeatedly gasping “I can’t breathe” seconds before he died.
A nightmare. An absolute nightmare. 7 officers. Grand jury refuses to indict any. That’s how it usually happens. Charging & conviction (as in the case of the ofcr who killed George Floyd) is rare indeed. https://t.co/AUXjhGoncE
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) May 21, 2021
How old was William Jennette?
William Jennette was 48 years old at the time of death.
William Jennette Lewisburg Tn
William Jennette, who had been jailed in Marshall County Jail in Lewisburg, Tennessee, died last May after an intense struggle with several officers, who yelled insults at him as they restrained him. Jennette’s death was ruled a homicide, local outlet NewsChannel 5 reported.
The coroner concluded the cause of death was a cocktail of drugs and asphyxiation as a “contributory cause of death.”
A grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against the officers, the outlet reported.
But Jennette’s daughter Dominique has now filed a lawsuit against the county, the city, and several officers, according to NewsChannel 5.
William Jennette Video
Jennette had been brought into custody two days earlier after being charged with resisting arrest, public intoxication, and indecent exposure, the channel reported. On May 6, jail staff called for police assistance in putting Jennette into a restraint chair — jail logs say he had been “hallucinating” and “detoxing,” the channel reported. He had also been in a restraint chair the day before, as he had been hitting his head against the wall, according to the outlet.
Part of the scene is shown in graphic footage obtained by the channel, in its report on its investigation into Jennette’s death:
The footage documents a struggle in which officers brought him to the ground and grappled for his arms and legs in efforts to restrain him.
“Oh, it hurts,” said Jennette as they cuffed him. Pinned face down on the ground by several officers and struggling, he attempted to turn onto his side.
“Stay down, you stupid son of a b—-,” yelled an officer. Jennette asked to be let up, and an officer called out for leg restraints.
“You little stubborn b—–d,” yelled a female officer, as he was put in a “hogtie” position. Then, he said repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe.
According to NewsChannel 5, a female officer responded: “You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid b——.”
The audio is unclear if she said “should” or shouldn’t.” Marshall County’s sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this point.
William Jennette Death
With officers and staff still pinned on Jennette, one officer reminded the others to take care not to obstruct Jennette’s breathing.
“That’s why I’m not on his lungs. Let him breathe,” replied another officer. Jennette, no longer struggling, can be heard saying: “I’m good.”
“No, you ain’t good. You’re going to lay there for a f—— minute,” replied an officer.
Jennette died in the following seconds.
Dominique Jennette, the daughter who is bringing the lawsuit, told NewsChannel 5: “It just feels like my heart is constantly being ripped out of my chest, and there’s no peace to that.” She says that the officers involved weren’t trained properly for the situation. Seth Stoughton, associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina, told the outlet that the officers had done “the exact opposite” of what long-established police training guides advise.