Prosecuting Attorney Declines To File Charges In Franklin County Inmate Death

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FRANKLIN COUNTY (KFSM) -- Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons has decided not to seek prosecution in the May 2016 death of Cody Franklin.

Arkansas State Police had taken over the investigation, after Franklin was pronounced dead. ASP then turned over its findings to Gibbons' office.

Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen confirmed Franklin had died in the Franklin County Jail.

According to Gibbons' letter to the ASP Criminal Investigation Division, Franklin was seen on West View Road on May 10, "acting very strange...then stood in the middle of a highway...and stayed in the middle of the road." He was located and arrested by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The letter stated around 12 a.m. on May 11, Franklin was involved in fighting with other inmates. One inmate told investigators Franklin started wrestling him, and then sat on top of him. After jailer Nicholas James appeared and found Franklin had been pinned down by other inmates, he asked for assistance in moving Franklin to the drunk tank to isolate him from other inmates.

When patrolman Nathan Griffith of the Ozark Police Department entered the detention area and James opened the cell door, Franklin grabbed James' arm, and the two went to the ground. Griffith tased Franklin to subdue him, according to the letter, but the inmate did not comply. He was tased again until he was able to be handcuffed.

The taser report determined the conducted electrical weapon (CEW) activated five times in 18 seconds, according to the letter. The first three activations each lasted five seconds. Later reports revealed Franklin was tased eight times in 11 minutes.

Franklin was dragged to the drunk tank, he again resisted, and was tased shortly after by Sgt. Joseph Griffith of the Ozark Police Department. The report stated Franklin was tased three more times, lasting a total of 17 seconds, after he was taken to the drunk tank.

The police statements recorded that Franklin was checked and found with a pulse before the three law enforcement personnel left the tank. Between 2-3 minutes, they checked on Franklin, but found him without a pulse and realized he had not moved since they left. They performed CPR and called for EMS, the letter stated.

Franklin was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital in Ozark.

Autopsy results stated Franklin's methamphetamine level was 0.52 ug/ml. Dr. Erickson, the deputy chief medical examiner for the state of Arkansas, referred to it as "the perfect storm": meth levels, exertion, struggle over a long period of time, restraint and elctro-muscular disruption from being tased.

Erickson also stated the meth intoxication caused cardiac irritability and abnormal beatings of Franklin's heart.

Finally, the doctor said Franklin's CO2 buildup in his body was worsened because the officers had placed their body on his back, while he was face-down in a prone position. He would have appeared to be breathing normally, but, in fact, he was not able to decrease the acidosis buildup, which caused his death, the doctor stated.

Gibbons concluded his letter with the following statement:

"It is my opinion that, given the methamphetamine intoxication and the sustained and multiple fights with inmates and resulting from exertion therefrom, contributing to the fatal acidosis, there is insufficient evidence to convince all 12 members of the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of the officers caused the death of Cody Franklin."