(CNN) — The family of a black man who died in a Memphis jail in October publicly calls for justice and says that he demands answers from the authorities and accountability of the guilty.
The family of Gershun Freeman, 33, who died while incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail, spoke at a news conference Friday. They were joined by lawyers, including civil rights attorney Ben Crump, and supporters that included parents Tyr Nichols, A 29-year-old black male who died three days later Memphis police officers punched and kicked him repeatedly after the stop.
Video tapes of Freeman’s meeting with correctional officers were released this month.
The video, released by the Nashville district attorney, lasts about 13 minutes and shows multiple sides of a violent incident between Freeman and several corrections officers that ended in Freeman’s death on Oct. 5, 2022.
Freeman was warned to prison a week before his death on domestic violence charges involving aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault, according to arrest affidavits obtained by the CNN affiliate WHBQ.
The edited video from the surveillance camera shows how the prison staff distributes food to the prisoners and when they open the door to Freeman’s cell, a naked Freeman lunges at the officers. The video shows several officers punching, kicking and using what appears to be pepper spray on Freeman as they try to subdue him.
His body seems to leave a trail of unknown liquid on the floor below him as he moves into another corridor. On two separate occasions, Freeman can be seen on the floor clinging to a guard’s leg before getting up and running away.
After the officers chase Freeman to another floor of the jail and try to restrain him, it appears he swung at the officer. Officers eventually restrained Freeman, including putting a knee on his back, and handcuffed him as he lay on his stomach.
Minutes later, when officers try to pick him up, he appears limp and unresponsive.
Kimberly Freeman, Gershun Freeman’s mother said she wants justice for her son, herself and her granddaughter.
“We have to see my son – her father – in a box. We didn’t plan for that. My son had a lot of dreams, a lot of passion, he cared about people in general,” she said. “We want answers.”
Freeman’s family and their attorneys are also calling on the Justice Department to investigate.
Freeman was naked in the video because he was under mental health supervision at the prison and was placed on death row, said attorney Brice Timmons, who is representing the family.
“I don’t know what’s going on in America where law enforcement thinks they can treat mental health issues like criminal issues. Especially when they are marginalized people of color. Especially if they’re black,” Crump said during a press conference.
A 19-page autopsy report from the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office, provided to CNN affiliate WHBQ, says the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told their office that Freeman was involved in a physical altercation with corrections officers before he collapsed from cardiac arrest.
An autopsy detailed multiple contusions on Freeman’s body, lacerations to his scalp, and multiple hemorrhages on his head and neck.
Medical examiners found the cause of death to be an aggravation of “cardiovascular disease due to physical altercation and subjugation.”
The report also states that the “probable psychotic disorder” was a the cause of his death. The report classifies the death as a homicide, but notes that it “does not constitute a definitive indication of criminal intent.”
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Friday that “the sheriff’s office took immediate action on the night of the October 2022 incident. According to the report, DA (Steve) Mulroy and the TBI were contacted that night to begin an investigation,” adding that on the night of the incident, “all officers who had contact with Mr. Freeman were relieved of duty and remain so today “.
“It is unfortunate that this case is being handled in the media before the trial is complete,” Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said in a statement.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident and told CNN that the investigation “remains active and ongoing.”
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office has asked the Nashville District Attorney’s Office to investigate the case.
The Nashville District Attorney’s Office told CNN on Friday that it had “no comment at this time on the video.”