Witnesses Claim Tenn. Man Who Died After 'Altercation' with Security Guard Was Attacked From Behind: Family


“They 100 percent claim that Austin’s back was turned the entire time in this incident,” Austin Turner’s father, Joshua Turner, tells PEOPLE

<p>Courtesy Meagan Turner</p> Austin Turner

Courtesy Meagan Turner

Austin Turner

  • Austin Turner was allegedly struck by a security guard in the early morning hours of February 18th in Nashville, Tenn., causing him to lose consciousness and fall to the ground

  • Austin’s parents say he suffered a subdural hematoma and numerous strokes before dying from his injuries on March 7

  • Richard Cornelius, 36, has been charged with aggravated assault. After Austin’s death, the Metropolitan Police Department announced that conversations about “subsequent charging decisions” are currently happening

The parents of the man who was fatally injured in Nashville, Tenn., during what police describe as an “altercation” with a security guard, describe their son as “non-confrontational” and “mild mannered” as they piece together what happened that evening.

Austin Turner’s stepmother, Meagan Turner, tells PEOPLE that Austin was at Tin Roof bar on Demonbreun Street in Nashville with two friends when they all decided to leave a little after midnight on Feb. 18th. Austin’s friends left as he waited for an Uber outside of the bar. Meagan says that witnesses say Austin attempted to go back inside the bar, but she’s unsure why.

“We are assuming his phone died and he was seeking a way to charge his cell phone,” Meagan says, adding that his Uber order never went through. Austin, who was 25 at the time, was denied re-entry to the bar, and two witnesses have told her they saw Austin get pushed out of the entryway of the bar. Then, he turned around and walked away from the bar, Meagan says.

“He was not trying to fight anybody, he was walking away from the entryway without any kind of aggression or anything,” Meagan claims.

“Then [the witnesses] said that the bouncer — or who they believe to be the bouncer — came out of the entryway very quickly running towards Austin swinging wildly and then connected with Austin’s head,” Meagan says. “Austin immediately lost consciousness and fell three inches from their feet. They recalled that the force of which he hit the ground too … He was out cold, and they said that the sound that they heard when he was struck … It was very disturbing, and they knew it was bad.”

<p>Courtesy Meagan Turner</p> Austin Turner

Courtesy Meagan Turner

Austin Turner

The witnesses did not see the man who they say attacked Austin from behind after he became unconscious, and they administered aid to him until paramedics arrived.

“They 100 percent claim that Austin’s back was turned the entire time in this incident,” Austin’s father, Joshua Turner, tells PEOPLE.

Related: 26-Year-Old in Coma with ‘Irreversible’ Injuries After Alleged Altercation with Security Guard at Nashville Bar

Austin was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where it was determined he suffered a skull fracture, Meagan says. The following day he was semi-lucid, but hours later, Meagan says Austin began decerebrate posturing, which is a sign of a brain bleed. Doctors determined he had a subdural hematoma and performed an emergency craniotomy.

“Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough,” Meagan says. “The pressure created a hemorrhage in the right hemisphere of his brain, and he incurred a devastating stroke, which in turn led to multiple other strokes bilaterally in his brain. They called this a devastating traumatic injury.”

Richard Cornelius, 36, has been charged with aggravated assault in connection with the incident, but has since been released on bond. According to a statement from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, detectives are now “in conversation with the District Attorney’s Office about subsequent charging decisions.”

Ben Powers, Cornelius’ attorney, said in a statement to PEOPLE: “Mr. Cornelius is innocent of the allegations in the criminal charge against him. And we are eager to have our day in court so we can address the misrepresentations surrounding the night in question. However, we are reserving any further statements for our day in court.”

Austin remained in a coma for 17 days — including on his 26th birthday on March 2nd — before his family made the tough decision to take him off life support after speaking with doctors. On March 7, Austin died at the hospital surrounded by his family, including two of his four sisters, his dad, stepmom and grandmother, at the age of 26.

Related: Man, 26, Who Was Allegedly Punched by Tenn. Security Guard, Dies After Nearly 3 Weeks in Coma

“He never gave me any trouble,” Joshua says of Austin. “He always did the right thing … He was really starting to find his footing in this world.”

<p>Courtesy Meagan Turner</p> Austin Turner

Courtesy Meagan Turner

Austin Turner

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As Austin’s loved ones prepare for his funeral tomorrow, his parents are still trying to make sense of what happened to their son.

“I can’t understand how this happened to him,” Joshua says. “So many people go to bars and restaurants and it’s … it’s just wild. It’s just so hard to understand.”

Meagan says Austin’s four younger sisters are also still grappling with grief.

“A big part of their heart has a hole in it right now,” Meagan says. “That was their big brother. He was the only boy and had four sisters. He was just an incredible light, and we miss him so much already.”

When previously reached by PEOPLE, Tin Roof CEO Bob Franklin said in a statement: “We can’t comment on an ongoing investigation, but we are fully cooperating to aid law enforcement in their efforts and will continue to do so. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Austin Turner.”

Franklin also confirmed that Cornelius is no longer employed by Tin Roof.

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