Nine Memphis jail deputies were indicted in the death of 33-year-old Black man Gershun Freeman, who was having a psychotic episode when he was beaten and died, the Associated Press reports. Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, who oversees the jail where Freeman was beaten, disclosed the existence of the indictments Wednesday. Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk released video of the incident in March. The video shows Freeman was beaten by at least 10 corrections officers Oct. 5 after he ran naked from his cell. His attorneys say he was also struck with handcuffs, rings of jail keys and pepper spray cannisters. Freeman had “psychosis and cardiovascular disease and died of a heart attack while being restrained,” Bonner said, citing a medical examiner’s report.
Freeman’s manner of death is listed as a homicide in the autopsy report from the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, although the report says that this “is not meant to definitively indicate criminal intent.” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into the death. Freeman’s family called for the corrections deputies involved in the confrontation with Freeman to be punished. Freeman had been jailed on charges of attacking and kidnapping his girlfriend. Bonner, who is running for mayor of Memphis, said the deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave. Bonner supports them and claims the release of the video and the indictments are politically motivated because Mulroy, the Shelby County district attorney, supports a different mayoral candidate. Mulroy said he had endorsed candidate Van Turner for mayor before Freeman’s death. Mulroy said he recused himself from the investigation “to keep politics out of the case.”