More than a year after current and former corrections officers at the Cheatham County Jail were investigated for the use of unlawful force on a now-deceased 18-year-old detainee and the making false reports about the incidents to federal agents, federal officials have unsealed indictments and charges in the case.
According to the indictments, on Nov. 5, 2016, Former Corporal Mark Bryant allegedly used a Taser on Jordan Norris four times for a total of 50 seconds while the man was restrained in a chair.
In a second incident that same night, Bryant allegedly used a Taser on Norris for approximately 11 seconds "without legitimate justification" when the man was in handcuffs and surrounded by multiple officers.
Norris' family stopped short of calling the arrests justice Tuesday.
"Rather than protecting him and doing what they were sworn to do, they abused him and they tortured him, and then lied about it," said Norris' step dad Tony Chapman.
Shortly after the incidents occurred, TBI officials said corrections officers removed Norris from his booking cell after he became violent toward himself and other inmates. Norris was restrained in a chair and was able to get one arm loose. At that point, investigators said 39-year-old Mark Bryant used a stun gun on the inmate at least four times, including one that lasted about 25 seconds.
Part of the incident was captured on surveillance video obtained by News4.
Officials say the combined incidents of "unjustified use of force," the victim sustained bodily injury.
According to the indictment, Bryant is accused of further obstructing justice by submitting false reports about both incidents.
Norris filed a lawsuit against Bryant and two other deputies, Josh Marriott and Mike Key, after the incident, claiming he suffered more than 40 Taser burns during the incident. Norris eventually reached a settlement with the defendants. The details of the settlement were not released.
Norris was found dead in March 2018 at a home on Sweeney Drive in Pegram. Agents with the TBI investigated the death, but their findings were never released.
The Norris family sent News4 a copy of the autopsy, which states the cause of death as suspected overdose. His family believes the the tasing incident also played a role in his death.
"It was listed in there that he had damage to the right ventricle of his heart. We're talking about a young, healthy 18-year-old when these tasings happened," Chapman said. "Absolutely no doubt in my mind that this tasing incident damaged his heart from what was listed in the autopsy report."
Bryant is charged with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of obstruction of justice. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in jail, three years of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine. RELATED COVERAGE: Settlement reached, 1 fired after Cheatham Co. deputies Taser victim 40+ times | TBI investigating death of man who filed lawsuit against deputies | Cheatham Co. deputies served with lawsuit following tasing incident | Jailer charged with assaulting inmate with stun gun Another officer, Seargent Gary Ola, who is still employed with the Cheatham Co. Sheriff's Office, was also charged with making materially false statements to investigators during two separate interviews about the incident.
Officials say Ola told agents with the FBI and TBI in Aug. 2017 that he walked away when Bryant was allegedly tasing the detainee and did not see Bryant commit one or more Taser cycles on the man.
In May 2018, Ola allegedly made a second false report to federal agents, saying he did not see Bryant use a Taser on the detainee after he was placed in handcuffs.
Ola is charged with two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of unsupervised release and up to a $250,000 fine.
Both were arrested earlier today and will make initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later this afternoon.
These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the behest of the Assitant U.S. Attorney Sara Beth Myers of the Middle District of Tennessee and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.
According to officials with the U.S. Dept. of Justice, an indictment is merely an accusation and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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