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Tennessee sheriff's office sued for allegedly torturing 19-year-old inmate

A 19-year-old is suing a county jail in Tennessee for excessive use of force after allegedly being stunned over 40 times. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A 19-year-old who was repeatedly stunned by a taser gun while already restrained at a Tennessee county jail outside Nashville has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff's office for the reported use of excessive force and depriving him of his civil rights.

Jordan Elias Norris filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court Friday. Norris alleged that Cheatham County Sheriff's Office deputies repeatedly stunned him in November with a taser gun after he was put in a restraining chair and provided evidence of more than 40 taser burns on his body.

According to court documents, many of the taser marks on Norris's body are unaccounted for in the deputies' use-of-force logs. After the suit was filed Friday, the Tennessean reported that three Cheatham County Sheriff's deputies had been placed on administrative leave.

Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove released a statement Friday morning insisting he hadn't been provided with all the evidence when he was originally briefed on the situation but added that he was taking measures to correct the issue, including launching an independent investigation and instructing supervisors to examine current use-of-force policy.

"As sheriff, I want our citizens to know that any inappropriate behavior that may have violated an individual's rights will not be tolerated. I have placed the employees involved on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted," Breedlove said. "We will work closely and cooperatively with the TBI and District Attorney's Office to ensure all facts are provided and all angles of this incident are thoroughly investigated."

Norris was arrested in November 2016 and charged with felony manufacturing/possession of marijuana for resale, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft under $500 and five counts of possession of a prohibited weapon. Four days later, he was also charged with felony vandalism of over $1,000 and simple assault.

According to the use-of-force logs included in the lawsuit, officers said they believed Norris was about to engage in a physical altercation with another inmate in his cell, and he became combative when they tried to cuff him. They stunned him and took him to a restraint chair, and when he resisted, they stunned him again.

After he was placed in the restraint chair, authorities said they kept him there for almost three hours because of his combative behavior, which included yelling at the officers and asking to be shot. Hours later, authorities said they had to stun Norris again in order to transport him to the hospital, which he resisted.

According to the lawsuit, the prolonged use of the stun gun on Norris while he "was restrained and suffering a mental health episode was objectively unreasonable, unnecessary, excessive, and without a legitimate law enforcement purpose." It goes on to say one of the deputies "shocked Plaintiff Norris with a Taser device four times totaling approximately 50 seconds on his stomach and legs."

Norris's suit also alleges that the same deputy told him while he was already restrained, "I'll keep on doing that until I run out of batteries," and demanded that Norris "stop resisting" as he stunned him in the restraining chair.

When Norris was finally released on bond almost a week later, he still had more than 40 burn marks on his body from the taser guns, far more burns than the use-of-force logs indicated.

"Most of the taser burns sustained by Plaintiff Norris are not accounted for by the Use of Force Reports and video clips received from the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office, raising further questions and creating a reasonable belief that Plaintiff Norris was also repeatedly tased on other occasions without proper justification," the suit stated.

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