North Carolina: Grand jury indicts nurse but not corrections officers in death of jailed Black man

According to previous CNN reports, John Elliot Neville, 56, of Greensboro, experienced an “unknown” medical emergency while in custody at the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Facility, causing him to fall from his bunk. superior. CNN reported that five corrections officers found him disoriented and confused and decided to move him to an observation cell, where authorities say he sustained injuries.

Body camera footage of the incident showed Neville yelling for help and resisting officers trying to restrain him. Neville can be heard telling the officers, “I can’t breathe” and yelling, “Mom!” during the episode, which occurred a day after his arrest on December 1.

Michelle Heughins, the nurse, checked Neville’s blood pressure as he continued to struggle and scream for help.

The initial investigative report from the Forsyth County Medical Examiner said Neville became unresponsive at some point while officers were trying to remove the handcuffs that were restraining him, CNN previously reported. Medical personnel started CPR and EMS was called.

Upon EMS arrival, Neville’s pupils were dilated and nonreactive, according to the report. He was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he died on December 4, 2019.

According to the medical examiner’s report, Neville’s cause of death is listed as “complications of hypoxic ischemic brain injury due to cardiopulmonary arrest due to positional and compressive asphyxia during prone immobilization.” Other important conditions were listed as ‘acute altered mental status’ and ‘asthma’.

In the summer of 2020, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neil charged Heughins and the five correctional officers who were treating Neville before his death with involuntary manslaughter, according to previous CNN reports. But on Monday, the grand jury indicted Heughins and declined to indict the five corrections officers, the nurse’s attorney told CNN.

O’Neil confirmed to CNN via text message that Heughins was charged and the correctional officers were not.

Grand jury meetings are secret and what was presented to the jurors that led to the nurse being indicted and not the officers has not been revealed to the public.

Heughins’ attorney, Claire Rauscher, told CNN the allegation was “obviously shocking,” adding, “Our client never stopped him, never held him down.”

“Once [Heughins] ever touched or assisted [Neville] was to take his vital signs and perform CPR,” Rauscher said.

Rauscher said Heughins had no authority to tell corrections officers what to do. He said that Heughins is “the only one who tried to save [Neville].”

Neville’s family released a statement to CNN affiliate WXII following the indictment, saying that while they “appreciate” the effort by O’Neil and his office to convene a grand jury, “it is disheartening that the videos of our father gasping and begging for mercy while he was tied up and suffocated, he doesn’t appear to have won any purchases with Forsyth County or Wellpath Care.”

“It is shameful that another black life has been extinguished at the hands of law enforcement and yet there is no accountability and no justice. We will continue to fight for what is right and fair,” Neville’s family said in the statement.

According to court documents obtained by CNN, Heughins will appear in court for his arraignment on May 2.

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