Family seeks answers in man's death after fight in Bradley County Jail

Billy Rogers
photo Billy Rogers

The family of Billy Joe Rogers wants to know why he died after a fight in the Bradley County Jail this spring.

Rogers, 39, died at Erlanger hospital on May 1. Jailers found him unresponsive three days earlier, following a fight with another inmate. He was in jail due to a failure to appear in Criminal Court in connection to three charges of "dog at large (serious bodily injury)" dating back to May 2015.

Today, they and their attorney, John Wolfe, held a press conference on the footsteps of the Bradley County Courthouse, demanding answers from the Bradley County Sheriff's Office.

"We just want justice for Billy," Ann Cloer, his sister said.

Except for a short statement from the Bradley County Sheriff's Office confirming Rogers' death, the department has said nothing else concerning Rogers' death.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation opened a case concerning Rogers' death, which is routine for inmate deaths while in custody. The10th Judicial District Attorney's Office has not announced any indictments.

Rogers is one of three inmates who died while in custody of the Bradley County Jail this year.

Wolfe compared the eight months that have passed since Rogers' death without answers to a more recent inmate death which resulted in indictments.

Last week, three former jailers were booked on official misconduct charges stemming from the Sept. 18 hanging death of inmate Ralph Nelms, 41. One officer was also charged with tampering with evidence and tampering with governmental records.

In August, a state inspector cited the Bradley County Jail for "very vague" security check logs, suicide watch observation reports and restraint checks. The inspection also cited the facility for understaffing and inmate overcrowding.