Man's death in custody called homicide; sheriff's deputies cleared of charges

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 5:41pm

A case summary and report from the Metro Nashville Police Department reveal more details about the death of Micheal Minick in Nashville General Hospital last May.

Minick’s mother and wife, the co-administrators of his estate, filed a lawsuit against 17 individuals and agencies last week, claiming he was beaten to death by four Davidson County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

The police report reveals that the Davidson County medical examiner determined the death to be a homicide. In a report clearing the deputies of the charge of homicide/nonnegligent manslaughter, MNPD Detective Mike Roland reported finding insufficient evidence.

“There was nothing uncovered that suggested the officers involved did anything other than use an amount of force they felt necessary to restrain Michael Minick and gain control of him to prevent him from hurting himself or others,” Roland wrote in the case summary.

The four deputies named in the suit are Christopher Foster, Jeffrey Davidson, Morris Craven and Matthew Barshaw. According to a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, the deputies were placed on temporary assignments with no direct inmate supervision until the criminal investigation concluded. The deputies returned to their normal assignments after they were cleared of charges.

The summary also states that the police officer who arrested Minick in the woods in Goodlettsville suspected that he was exhibiting symptoms of “excited delirium.”

He was arrested for failing to appear in court on a suspended driver’s license charge after police found wandering in the woods. When he was transported to the hospital, his wife and mother brought medications that he had been taking for a mental disorder. They also came with an empty vial of “Loco Motion Bath Salts” that Minick had been taking, according to Roland.

The lawsuit and police report are similar in recounting the events that took place in the hospital room. According to the police documents, Minick became combative and broke free from a leg restraint in the hospital room when a deputy called for backup.

Minick struggled with the four deputies, two of whom sprayed him with pepper spray. The deputies also struck Minick in the face after he tried to bite them, according to the report. Handcuffs were eventually put on Minick, but he kept kicking so a deputy struck his thigh with a baton. Finally, Minick “slowly stopped resisting” and was placed in leg irons, according to MNPD.

The lawsuit claims that Minick was beaten while he was shackled, something not mentioned in the police report.

Minick, a father of three from Gallatin, died on July 2, 2011, after being in a coma for over a month.

Even though MNPD determined no criminal activity took place, the case was forwarded to the District Attorney’s office, who came to the same conclusion. DA spokeswoman Susan Niland said the DA’s Office presented the case to the grand jury out of “an abundance of caution or care ... to see if they saw anything differently.”

A Davidson County grand jury heard testimony in the case on Nov. 28, 2011, but decided not to bring any charges against the deputies.

U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes recused himself from hearing the case Wednesday. Judge Aleta Trauger was assigned to the case in his place.

13 Comments on this post:

By: BASPUD on 5/30/12 at 9:46

the da,s are just as bad as the crooked cops if it was you are me we would be in jail with a bond we could not afford because we don,t have a badge to rob and kill

By: spooky24 on 5/31/12 at 4:59

Dismiss the suit and the NCP should stop trying to 'make' news instead of reporting it. Leave that to the National media. This paper knew this suit was frivolous and yet failed to mention that the grand jury had cleared the officers as well as the DA's office. A request by the attorney for a 'settlement' was denied as the entire affair was video taped and all officers acted by the standards of their training.
It is sad that this man's mental issues were being treated by family members with homespun-and illegal-treatment instead of medical professionals, in which, he might still be alive.


By: waters on 5/31/12 at 6:30

Another tragedy caused by the police and district attorney's office - the police created a violent situation, then escalated it. Why? To prove they are above the law.
As for the dismissal - I expect nothing less from the most corrupt judicial system in our country. I hope this family continues to fight in honor of their loved one. We continue our fight against the MNPD, District Attorney Torry Johnson (a corrupt crook), Therapist Diane Marshall, and Judge Walter Kurtz (another morally corrupt Judge).

By: govskeptic on 5/31/12 at 7:20

The conclusions drawn in this case are the same as a victim being
shot 7 times and conclusion being "the worst case of suicide in the
county's history" with a ditto from District Attorney office! For some
odd reason it's only when the FBI or other Federal authorities put
witnesses under oath that a fuller story emerges in these type cases!

By: sonny1024 on 5/31/12 at 7:37

thugs and criminals with a badge that is what Nashville and middle tn have in police uniforms.look at the sad case 20 minutes from Nashville a man makes a negative comment about his local police dept. and gets a visit from a LT. who threatens to put a bullet in his head if he says any more bad things about his dept.the town which is also afraid of this officer waits for this kill this man this is what tn has in police uniforms nothing but common would think this poor guy get could some help but everyone is afraid to go against the LT. because of his power and connections.but i hope the family of the man they murdered gets all they can because it looks like another murder by police gets swept under the question now is WHO IS THE NEXT VICTIM.

By: wasaw on 5/31/12 at 7:54

To all you previous writers, Davidson County Sheriff Deputy's are not law enforcement. They are jail keepers and process servers, ONLY. Very few of them carry guns. They were at the hospital guarding the prisioner becasue he had been booked into the jail by REAL law enforcement and their job was to oversee the prisioner and make sure he did not escape. They did their job.

How many of you "know-it-alls" have ever dealt with a mentally deranged individual on drugs? I have and it ain't pretty. They have super human strength, fear nothing, and feel absolutely no pain. If you haven't been there, you need to lay your pens down. It so easy for you desk jockeys to sit on your throne and judge those out there on the battlefield.

The Davidson County Grand Jury, comprised of Davidson County residents, chose to release a "NO TRUE BILL" , after hearing ALL the evidence, on all the deputy's involved in the death. Don't get hung up on the Medical Examiner's stated cause of death. A "homicide" listing only indicates the cause of death was not accidental or suicidal. There are several kinds of legal "homicide".

Remember folks, if the deputy's had not controlled the inmate, the lives of the other patients and hospital staff were endangered.

By: yucchhii on 5/31/12 at 12:12

Though I understand the point made by "WASAW", I have my learyness. I don't claim to know all the details of the case and I am not trying to judge anyone. Sometimes you just have a "Funny Feeling" about something. This "Funny Feeling" isn't alaways right I admit. Though I still can't help having this feeling! I would prefer that the Deputy Sherrifs NOT GUILTY, but in the world we live in nowadays, you just don't know anymore!

By: Beernazi on 5/31/12 at 12:26

yucchhii, I get the impression you have a lot of "funny feelings." Are they accompanied by voices?

By: ancienthighway on 6/1/12 at 1:21

“There was nothing uncovered that suggested the officers involved did anything other than use an amount of force they felt necessary to restrain Michael Minick and gain control of him to prevent him from hurting himself or others,”

The detective quoted indicates the police officers involved were clear of charges. I would assume this is after consulting with the DA, since the police don't have the power to arrest, charge, try and find guilt or innocence.

Just how much force is required to keep a restrained person from hurting himself and others? Any past record, current mental or physical state should have nothing to do with being beaten into a coma while restrained. Seems to me a nurse with a sedative could have removed any perceived threat in a less aggressive manner. I would think that the DA would want to investigate this more thoroughly, and if he is not willing to make a decision, perhaps a hearing before a Grand Jury may be in order.

As far as the wrongful death lawsuit goes, it is my understanding these are only filed when the court finds a defendant not guilty of any form of murder. Unlike a criminal charge, only a preponderance of evidence is needed, not evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Of course not being a lawyer, I could be wrong.

By: Ask01 on 6/1/12 at 4:45

Curious,isn't it?

MNPD, as I understand, investigated sheriff's deputies and found no wrong doing? How unforeseen was that outcome? Allowing one group of law enforcement to investigate another will almost always result in one clearing the other. Read Norm Stamper's "Breaking Rank" for eyeopening insight into police cover ups.

The bottom line, to me, is the man was restrained.

Any question as to that fact?

Why then, does anyone believe the deputies needed to beat and taser him senseless, resulting in his death to further restrain him?

The concept of measured response seem lost on some law enforcement.

Sure, this person may have been belligerent and combative, but I, somewhat erroneously perhaps, believed the role of law enforcement was to protect the public, AND the person being detained from harming even THEMSELVES.

I hope I am called for jury duty if the wrongful death suit goes to trial.

Guilty, guilty, guilty!

With exhorbitant damages awarded.

By: wasaw on 6/1/12 at 6:45

You "desk jockey's" have been watching too much TV. Which one of you ask if the guy was restrained? Of course he was restrained! Why don't you read the article before you respond. The staff at Nashville General wouldn't of had him in there, in custody, if he had not been restrained. Did you not read he tore through his restraints? This isn't an uncommon incident guys. These folks on drugs have super human strength when they go off. Which one of you stated that a nurse could have sedated him? Hey genious, what nurse do you know is going to step into an allout brawl in a small patient room? Think anout it genious; do you think the drug crazed guy is going to sit still and let someone put a needle to him?

Ancienthighway ask just how much restraint is required to subdue a crazed individual? I've seen, and been a part of an incident where it took five grown adult male NMPD's to hold down a 20 year old drug crazed male. Guys, they don't feel any pain, so you can't hurt them. The pain and force that you inflict on a common individual to comply just doesn't work on a drug crazed individuals. All you can do is pile the weight on them until they're exhausted; and so are the LE. If you don't have the weight, you taiser them. Taisering usually doesn't work on a situation when there are a lot of bodies involved.

So you desk jockey's can sit on your throne and judge all you want, but at the end of the day, the deputy's went home to their families, after doing their job. And their job was to keep the staff and patients at Nashville General Hospital safe. This is the very reason that no other hospitals but NGH and Vanderbilt will accept prisioners.

By: Ask01 on 6/1/12 at 7:38

I reread the story and noted the victim broke free from a leg restraint. Now, what genius deputy placed only a single leg restraint on someone the arresting officer noted exhibited signs symptoms of "excited delirium?"

Even after the extended dissertation, no attempt is made to address the concept of measured response, and the duty of the deputies to protect someone who is obviously a danger to himself, without regard for personal safety.

The idea of beating and tasering a person into a coma from which they never awake to protect them is a new twist on the sick theory about having to destroy the village in order to save it.

These guys went too far, in my opinion, no matter what anyone says. We pay them, perhaps too well, to protect the public and individuals, even those who cannot comprehend their actions, from harm.

They failed.

By: Shadow63 on 6/3/12 at 12:46

We need to get the Feds involved in this and other cases as well.