Woman who sued Tennessee sheriff for forcibly baptizing her is found dead

Last week, a civil rights lawsuit against a former Tennessee sheriff's deputy was approved by a U.S. District Court judge. The lawsuit accuses the deputy of baptizing a woman against her will during a 2019 traffic stop. Now the woman who brought the lawsuit has been found dead, News9 reports.

Hamilton County deputies found the body of 42-year-old Shandele Marie Riley at a home on Log Cabin Lane. The cause of death is still unknown and an autopsy is yet to be conducted.

Former deputy Daniel Wilkey, was indicted in 2019 on 44 charges including rape, assault, and official oppression after he pulled over Riley and during the course of the traffic stop found her to be in possession of marijuana and placed her under arrest. After he placed her in handcuffs, Riley says Wilkey inappropriately touched her crotch.

"Wilkey and Riley next discussed religion. They spoke for another thirty minutes, and another deputy, Tyler McRae, left sometime during this conversation. Riley testified that Wilkey asked her whether she had been baptized. She responded with concern that she may not be ready. But, according to Riley’s testimony, Wilkey told her 'God [was] talking to him' and assured her that, if she got baptized, he would only write her a citation and she would be free to go about her business," the judge's ruling explains. "According to Riley, Wilkey also indicated that he would speak at court on her behalf if she agreed. Riley decided to go along with this plan because she '[did not] want to go to jail.' She also 'thought [Wilkey] was a God-fearing, church-like man who saw something . . . in [her], that God talked to him,' and testified that 'it felt good to believe that for a minute.'"

Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston has requested the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigate Riley's death.

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