Family blames police for inmate death - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Family blames police for inmate death

We've all seen tasers at work.  They are shocking tools used to subdue suspects.

"If I walk in and you're under arrest and I tell you you're under arrest and you resist -- then I can use a taser," said Inspector Billy Sanders with West Memphis Police.

West Memphis Police tasered 39 year-old Dewayne Chatt early Thursday morning.

"And I'm not sure who many times they used it -- we're still investigating that part," said Sanders.

Preliminary reports are that Chatt was tasered 3, 4, maybe even 5 times inside the manager's office of the Dodge's Chicken.  That's where officers say Chatt hid from them before resisting arrest.  Chatt's family blames police for his death.

"I do," said sister Patricia Ficklen.  "Because they didn't take him to the hospital," she added.

Instead -- Chatt was transported to the Crittenden County Jail.  He died in a cell a short time later.

"They tased him constantly, they pepper sprayed him, and they did not get him medical attention," said sister Sheila Chatt.  "So yes, they are at fault," she added.

Chatt's family admits he was no angel.  He had been arrested a dozen times for various crimes.

"And they never had to use excessive force -- so why now?" asked Sheila Chatt.

The Crittenden County Sheriff's Office is investigating what led to Chatt's death.

"Anytime an inmate dies in our custody -- that's a great concern to us," said Investigator Tommy Martin.

For now, top brass at the police department is fully behind the actions of its officers.

"And I'm not going to second guess these officers of how or what went on there," said Sanders.

Chatt's family is doing plenty of that.

"What gives them the right?" asked Sheila Chatt.

They're unable to find polite words to describe police.

"I'm gonna take the 5th on that one," said Ficklen.

Chatt's body is at the state crime lab in Little Rock for an autopsy.  His family says he did have medical problems.  The officers who tasered him remain on duty.

Click here to e-mail Jason Miles.

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