Family of Gershun Freeman, black man killed in Memphis jail, demand justice


The family of a black man who died in a Memphis prison. in October, he publicly calls for justice and states that he wants answers from the authorities and those responsible to be held accountable.

The family of Gershun Freeman, a 33-year-old man who died in custody at the Shelby County Jail, spoke at a press conference on Friday. They were joined by lawyers, including civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, and supporters who included parents Sheena Nichols, A 29 year old black man who died three days later Memphis police officers punched and kicked him repeatedly after stopping traffic.

Video footage of Freeman meeting with corrections officers at the prison was released this month.

The footage, released by the Nashville District Attorney, is about 13 minutes long and shows multiple angles of a violent incident between Freeman and several corrections officers that ended in Freeman’s death on October 5, 2022.

Freeman has been warned to jail a week before his death on charges of domestic violence involving aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the CNN affiliate WBC.

Gershun Freeman's family, lawyer Ben Crump, and Rowan and Rodney Wells, parents of Tyre Nichols, held a press conference at the Shelby County Jail outside the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis on March 17, 2023.

Edited security video shows corrections officers distributing food to prisoners and when they open the door to Freeman’s cell, a naked Freeman lunges at the officers. The video shows several officers punching and kicking Freeman and using what looks like pepper spray in an attempt to subdue him.

His body appears to leave a trail of unknown liquid on the floor below him as he moves into another corridor. On two separate occasions, Freeman can be seen on the floor clinging to a guard’s leg before getting up and running.

After the officers chase Freeman to another floor of the prison and try to hold him back, he seems to be taking a swing at the officer. Officers eventually subdued Freeman, including putting a knee on his back, and handcuffing him as he lay on his stomach.

A few minutes later, when the officers try to pick him up, he appears lethargic and unresponsive.

Kimberly Freeman, Gershun Freeman’s mother said she wanted justice for her son, for herself, and for her granddaughter.

“We should see my son – her father – in the box. We didn’t plan this. My son had a lot of dreams, a lot of admiration, he cared about people in general,” she said. “We need answers.”

In this video, a group of guards are trying to neutralize Gershun Freeman outside of his cell.

The Freeman family and their lawyers are also calling on the Justice Department to investigate.

Freeman was nude in the video because he was under mental health care in prison and was placed in a suicide watch cell, lawyer Bryce Timmons, who represents the family, said.

“I don’t know what’s going on in America where law enforcement think they can treat mental health issues the same way they treat criminal cases. Especially if they are colored outcasts. Especially if they are black,” Crump said at a press conference.

A 19-page autopsy report from the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office, provided to CNN by WHBQ affiliate, says that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said their Freeman office was involved in a physical altercation with corrections officers before passing out due to a stop hearts.

The autopsy details numerous bruises on Freeman’s body, lacerations on the scalp, and multiple hemorrhages on the head and neck.

Medical experts determined that the cause of death was an exacerbation of “cardiovascular disease due to physical strife and submission.”

The report also states that the “probable psychotic disorder” was likely aggravated his condition, leading to his death. The report classifies the death as a homicide, but notes that it is “not intended to be a definitive indication of malice”.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said in a Friday statement that “the sheriff took immediate action on the night of the incident in October 2022. According to minutes, DA (Steve) Mulroy and TBI contacted that night to open an investigation,” adding that on the night of the incident, “all officers who had contact with Mr. Freeman were relieved of their position and remain in that status to this day.” .

“Unfortunately, this case is being considered by the media until the review is complete,” Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said. says in the statement.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident and told CNN that the investigation “remains active and ongoing.”

The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office has asked the Nashville Attorney’s Office to investigate the case.

The Nashville District Attorney’s office told CNN on Friday that they are “not commenting on the video at this time.”