Police repeatedly used stun guns on restrained teen, lawsuit says

Sheriff appeared to make fun of him on Facebook
Posted at 11:08 PM, Jul 26, 2017

A newly filed federal lawsuit has claimed deputies in Cheatham County, Tennessee used excessive force on an 18-year-old man in custody in 2016.

Jordan Norris was arrested on drug and weapons charges last November and spent several days in Cheatham County Jail.

The lawsuit named three deputies as defendants and claimed they used stun guns on Norris while he was "physically restrained" in a restraint chair.

"It's terrible," Norris said as he pushed back tears.

Pictures filed with the lawsuit showed his body covered with burn marks after he was released from jail.

His stepfather remembered asking him what happened after seeing the marks on his body.

"I said, 'Jordan what is that?' It looked like he had the measles. And he said, 'That's where they tased me.' I could not wrap my head around that," William Chapman said.

Chapman said he counted more than 40 burns.

"I was actually giving the police benefit of the doubt over my own child because I was thinking he must have been fighting back, he must have been resisting," Chapman said.

But his opinion changed when he saw the jail's video. It was taken in the booking room and from cameras on the stun guns themselves.

The footage seemed to show deputies repeatedly using stun guns on Norris while he was in a restraint chair.

Cheatham County's Use of Force Report indicated Norris began "banging his head against the door" of his cell and was threatening other inmates.

The booking camera video showed deputies remove Norris from his cell and bring him into a restraint chair.

Restraint chairs have been used to keep inmates from harming themselves or others.

"I think he had some sort of breakdown. They said he was feeling suicidal," Chapman said.

Chapman said it's clear his son was not in his right mind.

The video showed multiple officers around Norris who clearly continued to struggle.

Deputies used a handheld device to "dry stun" Norris as they attempted to get him in the chair.

But the lawsuit claimed deputies continued using stun guns on Norris later that night while he was on suicide watch, while he was "physically restrained by the chair and multiple officers."

Sheriff Mike Breedlove said officers followed procedure because Norris continued flinching and was not fully restrained.

On the video you can hear one deputy tell Norris, "I'll keep doing that until I run out of batteries."

Norris said he remembered deputies asking him, "Do you want me to do it again? We got a whole bunch of batteries we can drain into you pretty much. We will do it over and over until we have no more."

On the sheriff's office's Facebook page from the week Norris was arrested, the sheriff himself seemed to taunt Norris.

He wrote that Norris "peed a little bit" when he was first arrested by the SWAT Team.

The sheriff called Norris "a drug dealer by trade and on the fast track to live the thug life."

Breedlove said the Facebook page is meant to be humorous and entertaining and he writes once a week to update the public about the arrests made by the department.

He said Norris's treatment after he was arrested was not taunting, but necessary.

Attorney Ben Raybin said the force was excessive and not appropriate.

"We think the tapes speak for themselves," Raybin said.

Norris was finally taken to a patrol car to go to the hospital.

He was still in the chair as he was rolled out to the parking lot.

He appeared unaware of what was happening.

One deputy said to him, "We're going to lift you up, and we're going to take you to the car. "

Norris responded, "No, no."

Norris later broke out the window to a patrol car before being taken to a mental health facility.

His family said no one deserves what happened to him.

"When I found that he was actually strapped to a restraint chair, it was even more mind boggling. It didn't make any sense," Chapman said.

Breedlove declined an on-camera interview, but said his deputies followed procedure.

He said Norris was strong and out of control.

He said they had to "dry stun" him to gain compliance.  

He said "dry stunning" involves less voltage than if someone were stunned using prongs that attach to the body.