As noted on Monday, WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler field a wrongful death lawsuit last Friday against Hardeman County, Tennessee over the death of his son, former WWE Tag Team Champions Brian Christopher Lawler, who passed away at the age of 46 on July 29, 2019. Brian was found hanging in his jail cell and the official cause of death was ruled a suicide, but the family disputes this. Lawler alleges “numerous failures of the county and its employees that resulted in the wrongful death of his son.” He also wants Sheriff John Doolen to make changes at the Hardeman County Jail to protect inmates from future harm.
Lawler and attorney Jeffrey Rosenblum hosted a press conference on Monday and accused the county, Doolen and others of failing to protect his son. Lawler is seeking $3 million in compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Lawler’s attorney said they are also seeking a court order that will require Doolen to immediately make changes at the jail so no more suicides in confinement can happen.
Brian was found hanging in an isolated cell but his father is questioning whether his death was actually a suicide. Jerry said on Monday that Sheriff Doolen promised him that he would “personally keep an eye out” for Brian while he was in custody. Jerry said he took a photo of Brian after he was taken to the hospital, where he died, and texted it to the Sheriff.
“And I said, ‘Remember when you told me that Brian would be safe? I believed you,'” Jerry said. Doolen responded “I am sorry for your loss,” according to Jerry.
The lawsuit states that the defendants “failed to provide Brian with any treatment for his drug and alcohol issues” while he was incarcerated at the jail and that they “altogether failed to provide him with appropriate care after he was assaulted by another inmate” on July 28. Brian had a “significant open wound above his eye” after the incident and reportedly urged jail staff to take him to the hospital because of a suspected concussion, according to the filing. Brian was not taken to a hospital but he was “put Brian into a solitary confinement cell without assessing him for potential suicide risk,” the lawsuit said.
The suit goes on to say that large bolts protruding from the cell could be used as an anchor for the shoe laces used in the hanging. “Defendants had an obligation to protect Brian from harming himself but instead of protecting him, they put him in a cell by himself with perfectly placed anchors and shoe strings that could be used as a ligature,” the lawsuit said.
The filing also stated that the defendants had several chances to protect Brian from harm on July 28. The jail guards allegedly did not have a proper knife to cut Brian down after he hung himself, and instead used a pair of children’s scissors to cut him down.
Lawler’s attorney said there’s no reason those bolts should be protruding from a solitary confinement cell, and there’s no reason to let inmates enter cells with shoelaces that could be used to hang from. He also said Brian had been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, and was using a number of prescribed medications for anxiety and chronic pain.
“When these cells are constructed, the instructions are to never have anything that can be used as an anchor,” Rosenblum said. “So, at minimum, right now immediately go and shave those down and remove those (bolts).”
Brian was being held in jail after an arrest on charges of DUI, evading arrest, and driving while on a revoked license. Jerry said on Monday that his family wants policies and training in place at the jail, which would protect and provide health cae to those who are in serious medical and mental distress, and those who are an obvious suicide risk.
“It’s just something you have to cope with on a daily basis,” Jerry said. “It never goes away, you think about it every single day. And what makes it worse, like Jeff (Rosenblum) said, is when you feel like it just didn’t have to happen.”
Jerry took to Twitter to remember his son on the one year anniversary of passing, as seen below.
“Today was a very tough day. It’s been exactly one year since my son Brian Christopher died. I want to thank everyone who thought about Brian today. We’ll never forget you, Brian,” Jerry wrote.
Today was a very tough day. It's been exactly one year since my son Brian Christopher died. I want to thank everyone who thought about Brian today. We'll never forget you, Brian. pic.twitter.com/eGHQnzzAuW
— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) July 30, 2019