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That’s a Natural Death? Family Asks

NASHVILLE (CN) - A family claims their son died after sheriff's deputies beat him, sprayed him with pepper spray, put a spit hood on him and applied pressure to his jugular vein while he was shackled hand and foot to a chair. The family sued Forensic Medical Management Services, which allegedly declared that Andron Reed died from natural causes.

The Reed family claims the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested the late Andron Reed for speeding and evading arrest and turned him over to the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department, which jailed him.

Reed's brother, who was in another jail cell, claims could hear his brother "screaming for mercy" as he was beaten.

The family claims Reed "was physically assaulted at approximately 10:28 p.m. on August 14, 2009 by five (5) Rutherford County Sheriff Deputies with a two (2) minute period at the same time he was sprayed with freeze plus p (pepper spray or oleoresin capsicum (OC) at a minimum of 3 times.

"While the Rutherford County Sheriff deputies were attempting to place Andron Reed in wrist and leg restraints the weight of at least two duties was on Andron Reed's back as he was forced to the concert floor in a prone position.

"While Andron Reed was being forcibly restrained by the Rutherford County Sheriff Deputies in Cell 126 a spit hood was placed over his head between 11:28 p.m. and 11:38 p.m.

"At approximately 11:38 p.m. Deputy Roberts went to get a restraint chair. Upon Deputy Roberts' return with the restraint chair Andron Reed was placed in the restraint chair handcuffed behind his back, leg shackles on his ankles and a spit hood over his head.

"Andron Reed was then forcibly strapped in the restraint chair with leg restraints around his ankles, two (2) straps across his chest and a strap placed around his waist. While being restrained in the manner previously described two (2) deputies were applying pressure point tactics to Andron Reed's jugular notch and his mandibular angle joint."

He was rolled into a cell with the spit hood still over his head, a nurse found him unresponsive at 12:03 a.m. and paramedics picked him up at 12:21 a.m., the complaint states.

His family says Reed "was admitted to Middle Tennessee Medical Center with cardiopulmonary arrest, severe rhabdomyolysis, acute renal failure, metabolic acidosis, critical hyperkalemia, cardiogenic shock, anoxic brain injury, ischemic bowel, possible disseminated intravascular coagulation and multiorgan failure."

He was pronounced dead on at 4:53 p.m. on Aug. 15.

Forensic Medical Management Services performed an autopsy and reported that Reed died naturally of "fibromuscular dysplasia of the coronary arteries," an uncommon cause of death in the black male population, the family says.

The Reed family says the injuries were "consistent with excessive and traumatic restraint" caused by the Rutherford County deputies beat him.

Forensic Medical Management is the only defendant in the federal complaint. The family seeks punitive damages for outrage, fraud and deceit, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and abuse of corpse.

They are represented by Terry Clayton of Nashville.

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