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Inmate’s death prompts $20M lawsuit from family

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal still has not been served any papers related to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of an inmate who died while incarcerated at the Washington County Detention Center.
The parents of Stewart Peppers filed the lawsuit on July 6 in federal court and are seeking more than $20 million for the wrongful death
of their son.
Twenty-two-year-old Peppers was incarcerated at the jail on Apirl 26 on charges including aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon and the manufacture of a controlled substance.
He died three days later on April 29. His parents claim their son died because of injuries he sustained in an alleged 20-minute beating by corrections officers at the jail.
According to the lawsuit, Peppers was being housed alone, in a single cell, on the day he died. He began shouting obscenities at jail personnel, at which time six corrections officers allegedly entered his cell and began to beat Peppers.
After the initial beating, Peppers reportedly was strapped to a restraint chair that prevented him from moving. His parents allege one of the jail employees continued to beat their son even after he was physically restrained.
Chemical spray and Tasers were also used on Peppers, according to the lawsuit.
Following the beating, jail personnel allegedly attempted to perform CPR on Peppers, who was then transported by ambulance to an area hospital where he died a short time later.
The WCSO issued a press relase about Peppers’ death on the same day he died.
In the press release, Graybeal said no foul play was suspected in Peppers’ death, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate, as is agency policy in such cases.
When contacted late last week, Graybeal said neither he nor any member of his staff had been served papers regarding the lawsuit as of Friday morning.
While he did not want to comment on the lawsuit, Graybeal did confirm that the TBI’s investigation is ongoing and authorities still are awaiting results of an autopsy.