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Gershun Freeman

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A video of a Black inmate being beaten to death by police in Memphis, Tennessee has been released nearly five months after his death. Now, his parents are demanding that the officers involved in the brutal attack be held responsible.

Gershun Freeman, 33, died Oct. 5 inside Shelby County Jail after an encounter with jailers. 

According to Action News 5, the 13-minute-long edited video released by the Nashville District Attorney’s Office, shows officers handing out meals to inmates. When officers get to Freeman’s cell the video shows Freeman lunging at officers and nearly a dozen officers trying to subdue him. In the video, Freeman can be seen getting kicked, punched and paper sprayed repeatedly by officers. 

It then shows Freeman naked, bloody and disoriented, wandering around the facility until officers try once again to get the man back to his cell. When officers finally subdue Freeman, he’s completely limp and unresponsive. According to the autopsy summary, CPR was administered on the scene but was not seen in the video released by the DA’s office. Freeman would be pronounced dead on the scene shortly after. The autopsy report revealed that Freeman suffered cardiac arrest while he was restrained and his death has been classified as a homicide.

George Burks, Freeman’s father, is now demanding justice for his son’s death at the hands of Shelby County jailers.

“I feel like they did my son wrong,” said Burks. “They just came out and started beating him, and they beat him to death. I would like to see those officers brought to justice.”

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the family says he’s confident the family will get justice.

“The death of Gershun Freeman is yet another shocking example of police brutality in the Memphis and Shelby County criminal justice systems,” said Crump “The newly released footage is visual evidence that at least 10 officers brutalized and beat Gershun to death, when he was naked and clearly suffering from a mental health crisis. Gershun’s family thanks District Attorney Glenn Funk’s office for their transparency in this, and we are confident that their office will bring these officers to justice on the criminal side.”

But Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner stood up for the accused officers saying the video did not provide the complete context of the incident between officers and Freeman. 

“According to the Medical Examiner, Mr. Gershun Freeman suffered from psychosis and cardiovascular disease and died of a heart attack while being restrained,” Bonne said in a statement to Action News 5. “It is unfortunate that parts of the video are being shown out of context because the full video does show the erratic and violent behavior that led to the need to restrain Mr. Freeman. These corrections officers deserve a fair review of this case, and I will wait for additional information from the TBI and the investigating DA before taking further administrative action.”

Freeman’s death is currently being investigated by the TBI and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.


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