Three deputies from the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office have been placed on administrative leave after a man filed a lawsuit against them for use of excessive force. He claims the deputies Tasered him 40 times after they put him into a restraint chair.
Surveillance footage released by the sheriff’s office shows then 18-year-old Jordan Norris being restrained by two officers while a third administers the Taser.
Norris was arrested Nov. 3, 2016, and detained for felony drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft under $500 and five counts of possession of a prohibited weapon. Norris’ attorney Ben Raybin told Global News that those charges were later “resolved favourably.”
On the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page, Sheriff Mike Breedlove detailed Norris’ arrest.
The initial post described Norris as “a drug dealer by trade and on the fast track to live the Thug Life.” In an edited version of the post, the reference to being a drug dealer was removed and replaced with “he was armed with stolen weapons.”
Raybin said the wording was “unprofessional” but Breedlove said the Facebook page is intended to be entertaining.
The lawsuit claims there were approximately 40 pairs of burn marks on Norris’ body, although the use of force documents filed by the county should only amount to about a dozen.
After the lawsuit was filed, Breedlove responded to the allegations to local broadcaster News 2 (WKRN) alleging that Norris was combative and threatening.
Raybin contests this, saying Norris was suffering a mental health episode which caused him to involuntarily bang his head against the walls. This was what initially led the deputies to place Norris in a restraint chair “for his own safety.”
Breedlove said the deputies were preparing to take Norris to the hospital for a mental health evaluation before they brought out the Taser.
What happened once Norris was in the restraint chair is what the lawsuit addresses.
Video footage shows one deputy holding back Norris’ head at the neck, another holding down his right arm and a third administering the Taser.
The lawsuit states the deputies were pinching on Norris’ pressure points “intended to cause pain” and the deputy who administered the Taser was acting “in a sadistic and malicious nature” because he stated he’d continue to fire the Taser on Norris until his batteries had died.
According to the suit, Norris continues to suffer “seizures, nerve problems in his hands, mental anguish, panic attacks, memory problems and back pain.”
The sheriff said he has requested an independent review of the events from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
In a statement, Breedlove said, “As sheriff, I want our citizens to know that any inappropriate behaviour that may have violated any individual’s rights will not be tolerated.”