John Neville, 56

Died on Dec. 4, 2019 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

John Neville was arrested Dec. 2, 2019 for misdemeanor assault. His jail intake form included information that he had asthma. In the middle of the night, he fell from his cell bunk while having an asthma attack, and his cellmate called for an emergency response team to help him.

Five detention officers and a nurse responded. Neville was handcuffed as he struggled, then all his limbs were hog-tied. Neville continued to call for help, called out for “Mama” (who is deceased), and over 20 times told them, “I can’t breathe.” A detention officer replied that if he could talk, he could breathe. When they decided to remove his handcuffs, the key broke in the lock. Twelve minutes after he stopped moving, he was given CPR. As they carried his unconscious body out of the detention center, the other inmates sang, “Amazing Grace.” Neville died two days later in the hospital, due to a brain injury from cardiac arrest due to asphyxia during prone restraint. The jailers had asked a judge to release Neville while he was in the hospital so he’d be “out of custody” if he died, and the jail wouldn’t be responsible.

On June 17, eleven local news outlets petitioned the court to reveal the jail videos. On July 8, Neville’s death was publically revealed and the 5 former officers and nurse were charged with involuntary manslaughter. They are each free on $15,000 unsecured bonds, pending trial. By court order, the jail video was made available on Aug. 6, 2020, revealing Neville’s gruesome struggle for the last half-hour of his life.

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