Senator calls for further investigation into inmate death

Arrest Jail Generic
(Graphic: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A state senator is calling on Gov. Bill Haslam to order further investigation into the death of a West Tennessee inmate.

The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville recently reported on the death of 55-year-old Elbert Thornton at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary.

State prison records obtained by the newspaper say Thornton died of natural causes. But the doctor who pronounced Thornton dead at an area hospital reported numerous bruises on Thornton’s head and what “appeared to be whip marks” on his upper abdomen.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Yarbro of Nashville told reporters on Monday that a natural death isn’t typically accompanied by such injuries.

When asked about Yarbro’s call for an investigation, Haslam spokesman Dave Smith said in an email that “a full investigation was completed, and the death was reviewed by the Mortality and Morbidity panel.”

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