Claiborne Sheriff responds to inmate death lawsuit
From The Claiborne Progress -
Claiborne Sheriff Bob Brooks said in an interview on Saturday that the federal lawsuit filed against his office is “all lies.”
“The stuff the family has alleged is not true. I don’t even have any paperwork on this, yet. It’s completely blindsided me,” said Brooks, who added he first heard of the suit about 4:30 p.m. the previous day.
The suit alleges that Jeffery Drinnon was repeatedly tasered, in and out of restraint while in CCSO custody, which contributed to his death.
The lawsuit claims that the officers should have known that using a taser poses an increased risk of death to those who are methamphetamine users, but chose to use the method anyway. The document states that Drinnon was not taken to the hospital for treatment, even though he had admitted using the drug to officers and was exhibiting signs of meth toxicity.
Sheriff Brooks said in the interview that Drinnon was well-known by law enforcement in surrounding counties as a ‘career criminal.’
The sheriff described the incident leading to the arrest:
“There was a high-speed pursuit that ended in the Hwy. 25E/ 63 area. The passenger pulled his weapon on a deputy. Mr. Drinnon, who was the driver, was found with a large amount of drugs – synthetic marijuana."
The suit alleges that Drinnon became “abnormally drowsy” and was left unsupervised in his cell to “sleep it off” for some 8 hours. The document alleges that jail staff eventually found Drinnon collapsed on the floor with labored breathing. He was rushed to the Claiborne Medical Center in Tazewell, and later transported to the UT Medical Center in Knoxville, where he later died. The hospital reportedly listed cause of death as stroke brought on by acute methamphetamine toxicity.
Sheriff Brooks insists he can prove the allegations are untrue.
“Alleging that he was unattended for 8 hours – I mean, we’ve got documentation to prove that’s not right. Once he was in handcuffs, he was never tasered. The guy never gave us any trouble. I talked to him, myself, at the scene.
“This is just a desperate attempt – you know. Somebody thinks they’re going to get some money out of it,” said Brooks.
Those named in the lawsuit are Sheriff Robert Brooks, Sgt. Dwayne Napier and Deputies Adam Southern, Jacob Crawford and Carl Mozingo. Also listed are South Health Partners, Inc. and unknown medical professionals and jail officers.
The family of the deceased is demanding a trial by jury.
The Claiborne Progress is following this story and will have more as new information becomes available.