A situation out of Tutwiler, Mississippi, involving cinnamon, public officials purportedly behaving badly and a mentally disabled man has led to the firing of a police chief and four of his staffers. According to reports, Chief Terry Tyler and his co-workers allegedly encouraged (some say forced) a mentally disabled man to eat the spice.
On the surface, this may seem benign, however swallowing cinnamon can be a difficult task. The "Cinnamon Challenge" has become a familiar prank for individuals and groups around the nation to partake in (there are thousands of examples posted on YouTube). Here's how it works: An individual will try to swallow cinnamon powder without water. But the substance is usually so dry that they end up coughing it up.
In a video of the incident that was posted on YouTube, the victim, Denareus "Ted" Martin, 18, can be seen coughing and running for water seconds after cinnamon was poured on his tongue by town clerk Angelia Chandler.
In a separate video, Martin is seen boxing with another police officer. Both clips have been removed from YouTube. The videos were taken while the teenager was doing community service at the Tutwiler City Hall, as he was working off fines from what the Daily Mail called "a minor criminal charge." In addition to Tyler and Chandler's firing, officers Jimmy Johnson, Bobby Banks Jr. and court clerk LaToya Ellis were also let go.
According to Ellis Pittman, a lawyer for Martin, all parties involved were "laughing, grinning and having a grand time" during the incident. Their laughs and enjoyment can be heard in the videos, which were purportedly shot and posted by Banks.
In this brief teaser clip, laughing can be heard:
Ellis also claims that the incident may have stemmed from comments that Martin made in court. Prior to the "Cinnamon Challenge," he had apparently said that the officers weren't doing their job -- comments that may have led the officers to take revenge.
However, Tyler is denying the allegations waged against him.
"It's a bunch of lies and false allegations," he said in an interview with the AP. "I don't have anything to hide. I don't have anything to be ashamed of."
Both the district attorney's office and the FBI are investigating the alleged incidents.
(H/T: Daily Mail)