According to surveillance video, Memphis police used handcuffs as makeshift brass knuckles to beat a Black inmate, named Gershun Freeman, and kneeled on his neck and back until he went limp in a pool of his own blood. For minutes, no aid was administered, including CPR.
Freeman's death on Oct. 5, 2022, was ruled a homicide by the county medical examiner. His family and friends have been calling for the punishment of the officers involved and reform of Shelby County Jail where the incident took place ever since. In a federal civil rights complaint filed Tuesday, new details of Freeman's horrific experience are revealed, including an analysis of the grainy, 13-minute surveillance video from the jail.
“The gatekeepers are supposed to keep, but instead they abuse their authority with violence,” Kimberly Freeman, Gershun’s mother, told VICE News. “We are mountain climbers for my son, Gershun. Living wasn’t in vain.”
In the video footage, corrections officers approached Freeman’s “suicide pod” cell on the fourth floor of the jail; Freeman was experiencing a mental health crisis and was housed naked and alone to minimize the risk of self-harm. Two police officers approached Freeman's cell, pointing mace cans at him as a third officer remotely opened the door from across the hallway.
Rather than hitting anyone, he tried to “bat away the mace can in the deputy’s hand.” In response, an officer punched Freeman, knocking him to the ground.
“The gatekeepers are supposed to keep, but instead they abuse their authority with violence.”
Surveillance video shows at least seven other officers joining in within seconds, including members of the jail's notorious Blackshirt officers, who are “known for their physicality and rough treatment of detainees,” according to the court documents.
As shown in the video, Blackshirts kicked Freeman and beat him with fists, handcuffs fashioned into brass knuckles, and mace cans.
A police officer kneels on Freeman's back, neck, and head for over five minutes later in the video. Eventually, Freeman stopped breathing. Eventually, officers eased off Freeman, revealing a pool of blood beneath his head as they lifted his limp body off the floor.
The sheer brutality that occurs in the Memphis Police Department cannot be tolerated, and Gershun Freeman's tragic death is 100% on their hands. #AbolitionNow
Source: Vice News