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Grand jury declines to indict five former Forsyth County jail officers charged in restrained man's death

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A Forsyth County grand jury declined to indict five former detention officers accused in the 2019 death of John Neville, who died after being restrained by the officers at the Forsyth County jail.

Officials filed involuntary manslaughter charges against Lavette Williams, Edward Roussel, Sarah Poole, Antonio Woodley Jr., and Christopher Stamper back in July 2020.

Charges were also filed against Michelle Heughins, who worked as a nurse for Wellpath, the jail’s former health care provider. She is the sole defendant to be indicted by the grand jury in this case.

Neville, who was 56 years old, died days after being held face down in a jail cell. Video recordings showed Neville repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” Prosecutors say Heughins and the five former officers ignored his cries for help.

Nia Sadler is with the Triad Abolition Project, an organization that successfully lobbied the sheriff’s office last summer to ban the restraint technique used in the Neville case. Sadler said they are shocked the officers weren’t indicted.

“To see them pretty much go scot-free, I'm kind of speechless," said Sadler. "I mean, we were successful in banning the bent leg prone restraint, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to murder someone else again. So it's sickening.”

A civil lawsuit filed by Neville's family against the defendants, Forsyth County, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr., and Wellpath is currently pending.

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