Nine Shelby Deputies Indicted in Inmate Freeman’s Death: Two Charged with Murder

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Nine correctional deputies from Shelby Country, Tennessee, have been formally indicted for their involvement in the death of Gershun Freeman while under their custody. Among those indicted, two deputies, Stevon Jones and Courtney Parham, face severe charges of second-degree murder and aggravated assault that contributed to the death. They were reportedly involved in the incident that led to Freeman’s demise at Shelby County Jail in October 2022.

Meanwhile, seven other deputies are facing less severe charges correlated with the same case. Freeman’s unexpected death in custody has spurred his family to demand justice and accountability, intensifying after revealing surveillance footage. This footage projected a violent clash between Freeman, aged 33, and several deputies on October 5, 2022, that resulted in his tragic death.

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In the footage unveiled in March, multiple officers can be witnessed beating, kicking, and seemingly deploying pepper spray on Freeman as they grappled to subdue him after he made a sudden lunge at the guards from within his cell. Following a comprehensive autopsy, medical examiners attributed the reason behind Freeman’s death to the exacerbation of cardiovascular disease, further complicated by a physical encounter and detention. It was also inferred that a possible psychotic disorder might have aggravated the situation. Given these findings, the family’s legal representative confirmed that Freeman was under mental health supervision during his tenure at the jail.

Regarding this tragic incident, Jones and Parham have yet to break their silence despite multiple attempts for their comment. It remains undetermined who will represent the nine deputies legally. Speaking at a media gathering, Freeman’s family’s attorney, Brice Timmons, stated that the family felt gratified with the grand jury returning indictments, fostering hope for justice.

Prior to his death, Freeman was imprisoned a week earlier on allegations of domestic violence associated with aggravated kidnapping and assault charges. During a heated press briefing on Wednesday evening, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. referred to the case’s handling as a political act while condemning the ensuing indictments.

He is currently campaigning for the Mayor’s position in Memphis. Notably, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy, who has endorsed one of Bonner’s mayoral competitors, has excused himself from pursuing Freeman’s death case. Despite this, Mulroy clarified his approval for Bonner’s opponent, Van Turner, came ahead of Freeman’s death and Bonner declaring his mayoral aspirations.

Bonner stood firm in support of his officers on Wednesday, criticizing the prosecution as “despicable.” However, the family’s other lawyer, civil rights advocate Ben Crump, categorically stated that the indictments were the outcome of an extensive battle for justice in honor of Freeman and others who perish in custody.

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference has appointed District Attorney General Glenn Funk, also overseeing Nashville, to prosecute the case after Mulroy’s pardon. However, Funk’s spokesperson has not yet responded to inquiries about the case.

Freeman’s family continues to seek justice for Freeman and his lost dreams. Kimberly Freeman, Freeman’s mother, passionately pleaded for justice for herself, his daughter, and his memory. Tragically, she lamented that they had to witness their son and father confined to a box, stating that he had many dreams yet unfulfilled and cared for people genuinely.