WWE legend Jerry “The King” Lawler has filed a $3 million lawsuit against officials and cops in Tennessee, seeking “justice” for the death of his son Brian Christopher — aka Grandmaster Sexay — which they could have prevented, the suit alleges.
Brian, 46, took his own life last July while he was locked up at the Hardeman County jail on DUI and evading arrest charges. Cops claimed the former tag team champ was found hanging inside his cell — with his shoelaces wrapped around his neck — in what was ruled a suicide.
Lawler, 69, refused to believe that Brian had killed himself and instead thought that something more sinister had happened to him. He came forward in August 2018 with photos of Brian in the hospital before his death and claimed his injuries were not consistent with a suicide.
“Just look at his neck and look at his hand,” Lawler told reporters. “You can see the lines on his neck all the way around here to here, and what would be the length of your hand as if he was trying to keep the pressure off.”
The legendary wrestler-turned-commentator said he thought the pictures indicated “something other than someone hanging himself with a shoelace.” “It just doesn’t pass the smell test,” Lawler added.
He chose to file his lawsuit against Hardeman County and the local sheriff’s office last week — claiming they could have prevented Brian’s death. Lawler’s lawyer, Jeffrey Rosenblum, outlined his allegations at a press conference Monday, which the WWE Hall of Famer attended, along with Brian’s mother, Kay McPhearson.
“This shouldn’t have happened,” McPherson said. “We are a grieving family, and we’re sticking together trying to help each one get through each day.”
Lawler said, “I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression, ‘The worst thing that could happen to you is to lose one of your children.’ And in my case, it’s just something that you have to cope with on a daily basis. It never goes away. You think about it every single day. And what makes it worse, is when you feel like it just didn’t have to happen.”
Lawler’s lawsuit claims jail staff failed to assess Brian as a potential suicide risk and didn’t properly treat him for physical and mental problems that he claimed to have been suffering from at the time of his death. The suit says authorities knew Brian had a laundry list of issues — including major depressive disorder, a history of drug and alcohol abuse, past suicide attempts and a new head injury — but “failed” to do anything to help him.
“Defendants failed to refer Brian to a doctor or mental health professional at any time during his incarceration and failed to provide him with any treatment for his drug and alcohol issues while he was at the jail despite Brian’s statements concerning his use of various prescription drugs,” the suit says.
Lawler claims his son was “assaulted” by another inmate on July 28 “and then denied prompt and appropriate medical attention for the injuries he sustained.”
“Brian pleaded with [the jail nurse] and jailers to take him to the hospital,” the suit states. “He thought he had a concussion. He also had a significant open wound above his eye and needed stitches…Defendants, however, refused his requests for appropriate care.”
Not only did the jail employees deny him care, they also tossed Brian into a solitary confinement cell “without re-evaluating him for suicide risk,” the suit says.
“The cell where Brian was placed contained numerous large bolts protruding from the upper portion of the wall that were perfectly situated to serve as an anchor for a ligature,” Lawler alleges. “Brian, an inmate with known prior suicide attempts, major depressive mood disorder, withdrawal pain and a head injury, was also allowed to keep his shoes with shoe laces in this room with anchors for a ligature situated all around the cell in deliberate indifference to his wellbeing.”
Brian “repeatedly screamed and cussed in protest for being placed in this solitary confinement cell,” according to Lawler’s suit, but jailers allegedly didn’t listen. He wound up taking his own life just hours later.
“Had Defendants timely intervened to protect Brian from harm, he would be alive today,” the suit charges.
Lawler claims the Hardeman County jail was so unprepared for holding someone who’s a suicide risk that it “failed to have suicide scissors or an appropriate knife immediately available and instead had to use children’s scissors to cut Brian down, by which time he was not breathing and unresponsive.”
“Had Defendants responded timely and appropriate to this emergency, Brian would still be alive today,” the suit states.
Lawler is seeking at least $3 million in damages and assurances that practices at the jail will be changed, his lawyer says.
“The Lawler family has asked me to shine a bright spotlight on all the deficiencies at the Hardeman County Jail, so that changes can be and must be made immediately,” Rosenblum told reporters. “We’re hopeful that [authorities] will come to us and say, ‘We agree that we need to make changes.'”