CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A former inmate at the Cheatham County jail has filed a federal lawsuit against the sheriff’s department.
Lawyers for Jordan Norris, who was at 18 years old at the time, allege jailers used excessive force while restraining the prisoner.
The lawsuit said the force was “sadistic, malicious and unreasonable.” It was all captured on video by the department.
At the heart of it all is the use of a Taser on Norris who was secured in a restraint chair.
The sheriff told News 2 he asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the Nov. 7, 2016 incident.
He also placed the three corrections officers on administrative leave with pay.
Norris was taken into custody last November for felony drug and weapons charges. According to the sheriff, the teen has a long criminal history and has reportedly made numerous threats against law officers.
“He made the comments if we arrested him he would shoot us or kill us,” Sheriff Mike Breedlove said.
Once in jail, Breedlove said Norris was combative and was allegedly attacking other prisoners.
“We have a duty to protect other inmates while they are in there as well,” he told News 2.
According to Breedlove, Norris was placed in a restraint chair for his protection and the protection of others in the jail as deputies prepared to take him to a mental hospital for evaluation.
Breedlove told News 2 Norris was aggressive and would not comply with jailers. He said deputies also spent a lot of time trying to calm him down and Norris reportedly repeatedly struggled to get out of the restraints.
He reportedly spit at deputies and rocked in a chair, forcing jail staff to re-position him.
“[We put a] spit guard on him because he was spitting and was attempting to bite,” Breedlove said.
After several minutes and multiple attempts to gain compliance, deputies brought out a Taser.
According to the lawsuit, Norris was tased multiple times for a total of 50 seconds. He reportedly suffered red marks on his legs and torso.
“That is something that we want the TBI to look into because that by itself was problematic,” Breedlove said.
A female jailer was heard calmly trying to reassure Norris that things would be ok.
“We’re going to take you to the doctor,” the jailer said. “There’s a reason. We know you want to live.”
Sheriff Breedlove told News 2 the department deals with “bad people” on a daily basis.
“There are bad people, but that doesn’t mean we can violate their rights and we are not, and while I’m here, I won’t tolerate anyone’s rights being violated. I just won’t. That’s not me,” he said.
Breedlove also told News 2 the buck stops with him and he takes responsibility for the incident. He admitted he was briefed on the incident but did not watch the full video until recently.
“I didn’t watch the video when the event unfolded,” he said. “I was briefed about it, and that was my mistake. I didn’t have all the information until everything came out and then I watched the video and it was problematic, so I contacted the DA and asked for an independent investigation and he agreed, and that is where we are at – the TBI is here.”
Breedlove continued, “I want to make sure we address this. There is no appearance of a sheriff trying to cover something up. I have 36 years, and I am not about to tarnish my integrity and the image of the sheriff’s office. We are addressing it [and] correcting it and we will move forward.”
The sheriff said he put the three jailers named in the lawsuit on administrative leave because that is consistent with departmental policy.
He said he called for the TBI to investigate because he wants transparency. Breedlove also added he plans to reevaluate jail procedures in light of this incident.
News 2 reached out to the lawyers who represent Norris. Norris was unavailable for an on-camera interview.