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Videos Show Events Leading Up To John Neville's Death In NC Jail Cell

A screengrab of a video released on Aug. 5, 2020 that shows the events that led up to the December death of John Neville, an inmate in the Forsyth County Jail.
Forsyth County Sheriff

Officials released videos today that show the events that led up to the December death of John Neville, an inmate in the Forsyth County Jail. According to an autopsy report, he died by positional and compressional asphyxia during face-down restraint.In one video, body-cam footage shows several officers restraining Neville, while a nurse tries to calm him following what she says was a seizure. Neville repeatedly asks to be released, and officers give him directions to "stop fighting." In a second video, Neville is being restrained while on his stomach and says repeatedly that he can't breathe.

Last month, the Forsyth County district attorney announced that five former detention center officers and a nurse were being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

WUNC was part of a media collaboration that successfully petitioned the court for the release of the videos.

Earlier this week, Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough apologized to Neville's family. Kimbroug said during a news conference that he was saddened by the video showing jail officers hog-tying Neville before Neville died at a local hospital in December.

"And I cried as well," Kimbrough said, directing the comment to Sean Neville, John Neville's son, who was seated in front of the sheriff alongside family attorney Mike Grace.

"While mistakes were made that day, the truth is the truth," the sheriff said.

Kimbrough also said the sheriff's office has undergone administrative changes as a result of Neville's death, including what Kimbrough described as "integrative training" with the department which involves medical providers.

"Your father has changed the way health care will be dispensed at the Forsyth County Detention Center as well as how it will be dispensed throughout this region," the sheriff said, adding that a portion of the jail will be named for Neville, pending permission from the family to do so.

Two portions of the video were released Wednesday morning. One of them runs nearly 20 minutes and is from the body camera of one of the five former detention officers involved. Another is almost 26 minutes.

Neville died of a brain injury on Dec. 4 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, three days after Kernersville police arrested him on a warrant accusing him of assaulting a female in Guilford County.

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Politics and Education. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is an editor for WUNC. She has two decades of experience than span print, audio, and digital reporting and editing.
The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
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