Man who died in Bradley County Jail was in possession of meth when arrested

Man who died in Bradley County Jail was in possession of meth when arrested

April 19th, 2018 by Staff Report in Breaking News

This story was updated April 19, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.

A man who died early Thursday after being arrested in Bradley County had more than 8 grams of methamphetamine on him when Cleveland police stopped the car he was riding in, according to a police report.

The man, whose name had not been released as of Thursday afternoon, was in the rear passenger seat of a 1997 Lexus ES3 involved in a traffic stop on Paul Huff Parkway around 2 a.m., according to the incident report from the Cleveland Police Department.

There were four people in the vehicle and the driver had a revoked license, the report stated. All four were asked to get out and the driver consented to a search, it stated. Officers who patted them down saw "several small piles of a crystal-like substance that appeared to be methamphetamine" on the ground where the man was standing. They collected 8.4 grams from the ground and found another 1.2 grams in a bag in the glove box, according to the report.

All four people in the car were arrested on drug charges and taken to the Bradley County Jail.

The man was found unresponsive in a holding cell about 8 a.m., according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Sheriff's office spokesman James E. Bradford Jr. said the office contacted 10th Judicial District Attorney Steve Crump, who asked the TBI to investigate. It's routine to ask an outside agency to investigate when people die in law enforcement custody.

"My suspicion is we'll find it's an overdose," Crump said Thursday afternoon. The TBI said an autopsy would be conducted.

"This is one of those where we're going to have to just wait and see," he said. "I do not know what the circumstances are related to the arrest by the Cleveland Police Department, but I've heard nothing to indicate there was any injury to him or an altercation with another inmate or the corrections staff at the Bradley County Jail."

He added that, "particularly given some of the events that have happened around our district to inmates in jail, while the TBI has always been careful, in the last couple of years they have expanded the scope" of their inquiries into jail deaths.

This death comes shortly after Bradley County settled a lawsuit with the family of another man who died at the jail. Ralph Nelms, 41, hanged himself in a holding cell on Sept. 16, 2016. The county agreed in January to pay $475,000 to Nelms' family.

Two other people died in the Bradley County Jail in 2016. Hershal C. Dover, 53, collapsed and died from a medical issue in March and Billy Joe Rogers, 39, died after a fight with other inmates in April, according to Times Free Press archives.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at or 423-757-6416.