A Middle Tennessee inmate dies in custody, prompting state calls to investigate

An investigation is underway after an inmate died while in the custody of the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office.

The Middle Tennessee Province is located on the southeastern edge of the major division, approximately 98 miles from Nashville.

Grundy County deputies were called to a single-vehicle crash on Sherrell Road on May 29. They found Ronnie Ledbetter “combative and actively resisting” paramedics’ help, according to a Sheriff’s Office statement Thursday evening.

Ledbetter appeared to be intoxicated and under the influence of a narcotic, the statement said.

After paramedics cleared him of injuries, Ledbetter was taken into custody and placed in the back of a deputy’s patrol car.

“Mr. Ledbetter began attempting to kick the glass out of the unit while simultaneously punching the glass,” the statement said. He was transferred to another patrol vehicle with bars over the glass and taken to jail.

“Upon arrival at the prison, Mr. Ledbetter fought and resisted deputies while trying to get him out of the unit and into a booking cell,” the statement said. “Once in jail, Mr. Ledbetter was restrained and his handcuffs were removed. When officers placed him in a sitting position, they noticed he had stopped breathing.”

Jail staff gave Ledbetter Narcan, an overdose drug, began CPR and used a defibrillator on him, the statement said.

Ledbetter was taken to Sewanee Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney Courtney Lynch’s Office called the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to take the case. All jail video footage has been turned over to the TBI and autopsy results are still pending, the statement said.

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