OBION COUNTY, TN — A death investigation is underway at a local jail.
In a Facebook post, the Obion County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office says 37-year-old Sterling Lapree Higgins of Union City was taken into custody around 1:44 a.m. Monday and died about an hour later.
The Facebook post says while in the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex, Higgins was subdued after assaulting jail staff. An ambulance took Higgins to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The post goes on to say that neither Higgins nor the officers involved had any visible injuries.
Higgins’ uncle, Marcus Bonds, tells Local 6 that the sheriff’s office told him Higgins was in handcuffs but was acting combative so an officer laid on top of him. Bonds says he was told Higgins stopped breathing while the officer was still on top of him.
WPSD has made calls to the Obion County Sheriff’s Office for more details on how the officer “subdued” Higgins. Once we finally got ahold of someone, we were told to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A spokesperson with TBI sent this statement:
“Our investigation remains active and ongoing. We do not have any additional information to offer at this stage.”
We also asked TBI why Higgins was arrested but the agency could not tell us because of the open investigation.
Bonds says Higgins was a well-liked person in the community and it wasn’t like him to resist or fight with law enforcement.
An autopsy has been scheduled. The West TN Regional Forensic Center says it could be a minimum of three to six months before we know a cause of death.
The Obion County Sheriff’s Office says the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is heading the death investigation.