WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Four protesters were taken into custody during a protest in Winston-Salem on Wednesday evening over John Neville’s death while in law enforcement custody.
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Protesters demanded an explanation as to why the case took six months to make it to the public. They also demanded that authorities release body camera and surveillance video footage, and to up the charges for those involved if appropriate after the footage is released.
Winston-Salem police released the following report regarding the protests:
“Officers with the Winston-Salem Police Department were monitoring a protest at the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center. After several speeches the protesters stated they were going to march. Officers with the police department spoke to personnel walking in front of the group, reminding them of the need to stay on the sidewalk and out of the street. This courtesy was given in support of the press release distributed on 07-01-20, informing citizens of the need to observe the laws while protesting.
“As the group of protesters turned onto northbound Chestnut Street from Second Street, a large group started walking in the middle of the street, in violation of the law. Officers gave the protesters an initial warning to clear the street or they would be arrested and charged. Officers also provided the protesters three minutes to comply with the request. During the three minutes the protesters continued to walk in the street and officers gave two more additional warnings to the protesters. The protesters turned west on Third Street and then north onto Church Street. The group stopped in front of 301 N. Church Street, The Forsyth County Public Safety Center. Most of the protesters were still in the street refusing to comply with the requests of the officers.
“The three minutes elapsed and officers moved toward the crowd instructing them to move onto the side walk. The protesters moved onto the side walk, then several individuals decided to walk back into the street at which time officers began making custodial arrests. After the four individuals listed were arrested, the remaining protesters remained on the sidewalk.
“Officers continued to monitor the group which remained at that location for several minutes then returned to their starting point at the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center. The group utilized the sidewalks on their return. There were no other violations of the law observed after the arrests were made. There were no injuries to the protesters or officers on the scene.”
Five former detention officers and a nurse face charges in Neville’s death, according to the Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill.
All six are charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Neville died in custody back in December due to prolonged restraint and the inability to breathe. Neville reportedly had asthma.
So far, the five former detention officers have been arrested, all on $15,000 bonds:
- Sarah Elizabeth Poole, 37
- Edward Joseph Roussel, 30
- Christopher Bryan Stamper, 42
- Lovette Maria Williams, 47
- Antonio Maurice Woodley, 26
The nurse, identified as Michelle Heughins, has not yet been arrested.
Neville reportedly suffered an unknown medical problem that caused him to fall from the top bunk of his cell onto the concrete floor.
Detention officers and the on-call nurse checked on him and found him disoriented. They decided to move him to a holding cell.
Neville died about 45 minutes later.
The autopsy showed that he died from complications from an ischemic brain injury due to cardiac arrest because of restraints.
Detention officers did reportedly try to get his handcuffs off. It is unclear why they could not.
O’Neill said he spoke with both of Neville’s adult children and told them that their father’s death was avoidable.
The district attorney says he supports the right for people to protest peacefully but will not allow people to break the law.
Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough says one of the officers said to tell Neville’s children that they meant their father no harm, that they were trying to help and that they’re sorry mistakes were made.
Kimbrough says he takes responsibility.
The Neville family’s attorney said the family is still grieving.
The family asked for the video not to be shared until family had a chance to see it. The family has since seen the video. The district attorney says the video will not be released until the case goes to court.
Neville’s family said they are satisfied with the process and ask no violence to be committed in John Neville’s name that would not honor his life.