37 year old Sterling Higgins called the police for help on March 25th, 2019 and told them that someone was trying to kill him. Higgins was apparently in distress and yelling at a woman when the police arrived at the northwestern Tennessee convenience store parking lot. Higgins accused the woman of stealing from him.
Union City, Tenn., police officer asked him if he was on any medication and whether he was feeling alright. Rather than call for medical help, the police took Higgins in custody where he was to die after a few hours.
Disturbing Video Shows How Higgins Died
Higgins’ estate lawyers said that the officers arrested him for trespassing. They grabbed him and held him down at the Obion County jail following a struggle. The officers grabbed him by the neck until he went limp. He was unconscious and foaming at the mouth. The officers tied him to a chair and left him all alone in the prison cell for 15 minutes, before medical help was called.
The entire episode was caught on camera which was never released to the grand jury that investigated the incident. The video was released by the lawyers for his estate on June 12th, 2020.
Federal Civil Right Lawsuit Filed
A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed accusing the county jail and police officials of causing Higgins’ death by failing to provide medical help, unnecessarily restraining him and using excessive force. The case is currently unfolding in US District Court in Western Tennessee.
Jennifer Jenkins, the mother of one of his daughters, told reporters that Sterling Higgins was a good man and that he deserved fair and humane treatment at the hands of his captors. Jenkins is also the administrator of the estate.
She filed the lawsuit naming Union City, Obion County, three officers with the county sheriff’s department, and a city police officer.
Video Evidence is Crucial in Police Brutality Cases
There are an increasing number of mayoral candidates in Tennessee that have declared their unwavering support for body cameras and patrol car cameras. This is because video evidence can be the key to bringing justice to victims of police brutality. It’s vital to seek advice from an experienced police misconduct lawyer about the best way to present video evidence.
All law enforcement officials are provided with a certain level of immunity that comes with their line of work. It is possible for defense attorneys to twist the law and make the video inadmissible as evidence. This makes it necessary to consult with skilled and qualified police misconduct attorneys before taking any action.