Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents opened an investigation into why a Wilson County man was hospitalized after sheriff’s deputies tried to arrest him Wednesday night.
According to TBI spokesperson Susan Niland, Wilson County sheriff’s deputies tried to arrest Jacob Ross Nopens, 38, at about 5:30 p.m. on Rutledge Lane when Nopens collapsed and was nonresponsive “for reasons still under investigation.”
Wilson Emergency Management Agency paramedics initially took Nopens to Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon, but he was later taken to a Nashville hospital for treatment. Niland said the investigation requested by District Attorney Tommy Thompson remained active and ongoing.
Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore said dispatchers received multiple calls about Nopens who went door to door on Rutledge Lane and acted out of control. Callers also said he had a baby in his arms with nothing on except a diaper.
Moore said deputies arrived and saw the man near the road as he carried the baby. He said a deputy told Nopens to hand over the baby, which he eventually did. After Nopens gave up the baby, Moore said Nopens ran. Back-up deputies arrived, and as they tried to arrest Nopens, Moore said he had a “medical episode,” and deputies started CPR on him until WEMA paramedics arrived.
“In any case such as this, we immediately contacted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident,” Moore said.
Moore said deputies gave TBI agents dash-cam video of the incident, along with video recorded by a witness at the scene.
“…It appears that deputies did not act out of line after officers were trying to control the individual during the struggle,” Moore said.
The Democrat requested copies of both videos, but the TBI denied both requests and cited state law that says TBI investigative case files are confidential.
But Nopens’ family members believe something different happened. Nopens’ brother, Jeffrey Dee, created a post on Facebook that included photos of Nopens in the hospital. In the post, Dee claimed Nopens was “beaten literally to death by three Wilson County sheriff’s deputies.”
“He was walking with his son when the deputies pulled up and snatched his son from his arms,” Dee said on Facebook. “Witnesses said he never put up a fight. They also stated he begged them to stop, but they continued to beat him after he dropped to the ground. After being pronounced dead on arrival, he is now currently in a coma fighting for his life with swelling on his brain. “Doctors say that there’s nothing more they can do, and that it’s all up to him.”
Dee said on Facebook he created the post to ask for prayers and wanted to start the process to get justice for his brother.
“They claim to serve and protect, and that’s clearly a lie,” Dee said in the post.
One woman, whose name on Facebook is Paige Bowling, commented on the post about Dee’s claims of police brutality and said the incident happened outside her home and on her property.
Bowling said Nopens appeared to be under the influence of an unidentified substance and was running across her pasture while he held the child. She also said Nopens ran through a gate, a fence and an electric fence during the incident.
Moore said charges were not filed against Nopens, and sheriff’s officials contacted the TBI during the initial investigation to make sure there was proper oversight of the case before any information made its way to media outlets.
Moore said Nopens was administered several doses of Narcan, a medication used to treat narcotics overdoses.
Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, WEMA officials could not comment on the details of medical treatment given to Nopens as a result of his “medical episode.”
“We’re highly confident that no excessive force was used and that they followed protocol,” Moore said.
Moore also said once the TBI investigation concludes, Sheriff Robert Bryan will hand over evidence to the district attorney’s office.
Attempts to reach Dee for additional comment were unsuccessful.