FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Forsyth County and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay $3 million to the family of John Neville, the man who died in custody after suffering a medical emergency, according to the News & Observer.
The paper did not release further details on the settlement.
Neville was in jail on a misdemeanor charge when he suffered a medical emergency on Dec. 2, 2019. He was rushed to the hospital by Forsyth County Detention Center officers. Two days later, Neville’s family pulled the plug on the machine their father had been hooked up to at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital.
More than eight months later, in early July of 2020, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Neville had suffocated while being detained by five detention officers.
Body camera footage was also released that showed that John Neville suffered a seizure during his detainment and repeated several times that he “couldn’t breathe” and needed help.
The video also showed Michelle Heughins, who at the time was a nurse at the Forsyth County Jail, repeatedly trying to calm Neville down as she took his blood pressure. She was heard on camera saying, “They are just holding you down while we take your blood pressure. You just had a seizure. They’re just making sure you don’t hurt yourself.”
Five Forsyth County Detention officers and Heughins were arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter. A Forsyth County grand jury did not indict the former detention officers, according to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s office.
Court documents obtained by FOX8 show that Heughins was indicted in Neville’s death. She was the only defendant who was indicted.
WGHP, The News & Observer in Raleigh and several other media outlets had filed public records requests in 2020 seeking information about how Neville died. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services had agreed to supply the records to the news outlets, but O’Neill last year quietly asked Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David Hall for those records to be sealed. The North Carolina Court of Appeals ultimately ruled that O’Neill had no right to ask the judge to seal those records.
Neville’s death, and the circumstances around it, sparked a lengthy string of protests in and around the city, which lasted for more than a month.