From the Chattanooga Times Free Press: The daughters of retired Bradley County Jail Administrator Christian Robert Jensen are suing the county, the Sheriff’s Office and unnamed deputies claiming the wrongful death of their father in June 2022 at the hands of deputies.
The lawsuit, filed June 7 by Kelsey Miles and Olivia Jensen in the U.S. Eastern District Court, is asking for $3 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages for what the lawsuit claims was the Sheriff’s Office and county’s failure to adequately train deputies in “proper use of force” in situations involving persons with mental health emergencies.
The lawsuit further claims responding deputies should have known the incident could have resulted in a “suicide by cop” and prepared to deal with it accordingly.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reached out to the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office for comment, but it declined.
Bradley County Attorney Crystal R. Freiberg, also via email, declined to comment Friday, citing pending litigation.
Last summer, Jensen, 54, called 911 in distress and threatened suicide. Deputies were then dispatched to his home on Blue Springs Road in Bradley County for a wellness check, according to the lawsuit. Jensen, commonly known as Robbie, retired in 2018 from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office after working as a jail administrator for 29 years, according to the lawsuit.
After arriving at Jensen’s home, one or more of the defendants fired at him, striking and killing him, the lawsuit said.
“Defendants were aware or should have been aware that officers pointing a weapon at a person with suicidal ideations, such as Robbie, would make it difficult to establish trust and communications and would also increase the person’s anxiety, unnecessarily exacerbating the situation or creating a ‘suicide by cop’ scenario,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit calls the actions of the unidentified deputies who responded to the call, “willful, malicious, oppressive and/or reckless.”
Despite calling 911 and threatening suicide, the lawsuit said “at the time of the incident … Robbie was emotionally frail but active and fully capable of engaging in normal day-to-day activities.”
Franklin Chancey, attorney for Jensen and Miles, declined to comment on the lawsuit citing pending litigation. Chancey said via email that the county’s lack of production of body-cam footage and the names of the deputies gave his clients no other option than to sue.
“Plaintiffs, through counsel, requested records pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act on three separate occasions over a six-month period,” the lawsuit said. “The defendant’s failure to comply … within seven days of the request constitutes a denial and is actionable.”
According to the Tennessee Public Records law, any citizen of the state who has their public records request denied has the right to a judicial review by a Chancery Court or Circuit Court.