9 Memphis jail deputies indicted over inmate's in-custody death

Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Nine Memphis deputies have been indicted for the death of a Black inmate who died in their custody following an altercation, authorities said.

Shelby County Sheriff and Memphis mayoral candidate Floyd Bonner announced the nine indictments from Nashville Attorney General Glenn Funk during a press conference Wednesday night in which he called the charges "political."

Gershun Freeman, a 33-year-old Black man who was being held at the Shelby County Jail on charges of domestic violence related to aggravated kidnapping and assault, died Oct. 5 of last year.

A video of the altercation released in March shows a naked Freeman lunging at deputies as they attempt to seemingly hand him food, as they had done at the previous cells.

The deputies then are seen beating the disrobed Freeman in the narrow corridor before they are joined by several other law enforcement members.

He then eludes the officers, and makes his way up an escalator where he is violently restrained by three law enforcement officers and dies.

The autopsy report listed his death as homicide. He died of "exacerbation of cardiovascular disease due to physical altercation and subdual," it said. Multiple bruises and contusions were found on his body along with a deep cut on his scalp.

Bonner during the press conference framed the autopsy report as stating that Freeman died of a pre-existing heart condition and that "no actions by any Shelby County Sheriff's Office employee caused Mr. Freeman's death."

The nine unnamed deputies remain on paid administrative leave, he said.

"I want the community to know that I stand with these officers. I believe that if I were not running for another office, these indictments never would have happened, and I find this despicable," he said. "If there is a fundraiser to help with their legal fees, I will be the first one to donate."