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John Neville's death 'unfair' and 'inhumane,' youngest son says. The man died after asphyxiating in the Forsyth County jail.

John Neville's death 'unfair' and 'inhumane,' youngest son says. The man died after asphyxiating in the Forsyth County jail.


More than seven months later, Kris Neville is still processing how and why his father, John Elliott Neville died. In a short video posted on his Instagram, Kris Neville, 20, talked about his father's death and the protests that have sprung up around it.

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Triad Abolition Protect and Unity Coalition have led all-day protests at Bailey Park since July 15. Protesters have demanded transparency and more information from Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill about John Neville's death.

Kris Neville called his father's death "unfair" and "inhumane."

"I wasn't able to say much after it initially happened because I also didn't know a lot, and I was kind of just processing everything because it didn't feel like it was real and like it was really happening and my family was having to deal with it," he said in the Instagram video posted Wednesday morning. "I feel like I'm in a much better mental space to talk about it and discuss the things that are currently happening."

On Dec. 4, 2019, John Neville died of a brain injury at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, three days after he was taken into custody at the Forsyth County Jail. Kernersville police arrested Neville on Dec. 1, 2019, on accusations he assaulted a female in Guilford County.

The autopsy report said Neville's brain injury came about after his heart stopped beating. He asphyxiated while being restrained with his arms behind his back and his legs folded in a hog-tie position. Neville said he couldn't breathe at least 10 times, and at least twice, the response from detention officers was, "Come on buddy, if you can talk, you can breathe," according to three independent sources. He was revived several times, at the jail and in the hospital, before eventually going into a coma and dying. 

Five former detention officers and a nurse have been charged with involuntary manslaughter — Lt. Lavette Maria Williams, 47; Cpl. Edward Joseph Roussel, 50; Officer Christopher Bryan Stamper, 42; Officer Antonio Woodley Jr., 26; Officer Sarah Elizabeth Poole, 36; and nurse Michelle Heughins, 44. The detention officers have a court date on Thursday, but the case will be continued. Heughins is scheduled to appear in court on July 30, but her case will also be continued. 

The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office did not publicly acknowledge Neville's death until June 26, after getting questions from the Winston-Salem Journal. Video of the incident has not been publicly released. The News & Observer of Raleigh has filed a petition for the video, and a hearing is scheduled for July 29 in Forsyth Superior Court.

Kris Neville is the youngest of Neville's three children. Sean Neville is the administrator of his father's estate. Sean Neville and Brienne Thornton, John Neville's daughter, attended a news conference on July 8, along with their attorneys, Michael Grace and Chris Clifton, when Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill announced the criminal charges.

"I'm one of the three people whose opinions can make legal decisions regarding this entire thing," Kris Neville said on Instagram. "I feel like my opinion and my voice matter substantially and I'm ready to say more. It's important to have the discussion and to make people uncomfortable, especially considering I'm a black person who exists in a lot of white spaces. ... This is not absent from your life as a white person or just a person in general who has not dealt with it. It's important to have the discussion and continue to fight the fight."

He said he's still figuring out what he wants to say, but he knows what he wants to see.

"I feel like I want change because things that happened shouldn't have happened," he said. 

Kris Neville declined a request for an interview on Wednesday, saying he's not ready to do so. He also asked that his Instagram story not be shared publicly.

Protesters have accused Kimbrough and O'Neill of covering up John Neville's death. Kimbrough has denied the accusations and said he didn't say anything publicly about Neville's death because members of Neville's family and the family's attorneys had asked him to do so. 

The Ministers Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity and the local NAACP said at a news conference that they would like an independent federal investigation, possibly by the U.S. Department of Justice, into Neville's death.

Kris Neville said what happened to his father was wrong.

"It just seems unfair that he didn't get a chance to fully become the better person he was trying to be and it had to end up like this," he said. 

PHOTOS: Winston-Salem protests over John Neville's jail-related death



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