Autopsy shows inmate died from injuries suffered in Lincoln County Jail after fight with guards

LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. - A Tennessee autopsy has ruled the death of an inmate from the Lincoln County Jail to be homicide – due to traumatic asphyxiation.

The report says William Bernard Hawk, 50, was transferred from the jail to Vanderbilt Medical Center last Sept. 15, suffering from traumatic brain injury.

Hawk’s death followed an altercation with several jail staff members, according to the autopsy report. He suffered head trauma, facial injuries and a broken nose. It says he was placed in a prone, or facedown, position while restrained and became unresponsive.

WHNT News 19 confirmed a Nashville lawyer, David Randolph Smith, is representing Hawk's daughter. Smith said they investigating wrongful death and civil rights violations for a lawsuit.

Hawk was on TBI’s “Top 10 Most Wanted” list in July for an incident that occurred in the Park City area. Authorities located him at a Walmart in Nashville later that month. He was taken into custody and charged with attempted criminal homicide.

It is not clear if Hawk’s death will lead to criminal charges. Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder told us today the case was being investigated by the
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The sheriff declined to comment pending the criminal investigation. He did tell WHNT News 19 those involved were placed on leave for a week but have returned to duty.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed its involvement in the case.

“At the request of 17th District Attorney General Rob Carter, TBI Agents have been investigating the death of William Hawk while in the custody of the Lincoln County Jail,” a TBI spokesman said Wednesday.  “We have no further information to provide at this time, other than to confirm the case remains active and ongoing.”

 

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