Woman Who Sued Cop for "Forced Baptism" Found Dead

A woman who sued a police officer for allegedly forcing her to be baptized was found dead in her home on April 13. The 42-year-old Shandele Marie Riley's body was discovered in her home in Log Cabin Lane in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.

According to Hamilton County Police, Riley's cause of death is still unknown. The police are waiting for the medical examiner's autopsy reports to check for any foul play involved.

Neal Pinkston, Tennessee's district attorney, also instructed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to investigate Riley's death.

Pinkston ordered the TBI to handle the investigation since the Sheriff's Office recused itself from the investigation due to an ongoing lawsuit filed by Riley in 2019.

In 2019, Riley filed a lawsuit against Daniel Wilkey, a Hamilton County, Tennessee, Deputy. Riley accused Wilkey of baptizing her against her will in exchange for just getting a citation over a possible marijuana possession charge.

Riley alleged that on February 9, 2019, around 9:00 PM, Wilkey pulled her over. She admitted having marijuana in her car, a federal offense in Tennessee.

Wilkey told her that he could let her off with just a citation if she agreed to be baptized. She drove to Soddy Lake while Wilkey called another deputy, Jacob Goforth, as a witness for the baptism.

She also accused Wilkey of inappropriately touching her while she was being handcuffed.

In 2019, Wilkey was involved in several lawsuits, charged with 44 counts of assault, including rape and official oppression.

"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 handling Riley's case wrote.

"Riley decided to go along with this plan because she '[did not] want to go to jail," the judge added.

Robin Flores, Riley's attorney, said her death had a very negative impact on the case. "We would have nobody to continue prosecuting it," he said. However, his team plans to have Riley's children take her place as the plaintiff.

Flores explained that since Riley was able to leave a deposition, they could use it to continue the case.

"If we can meet all these requisites, I fully intend to finish the prosecution of this case in federal court; it needs to be prosecuted," Flores said. "I think the history of it in the media will show that a baptism by a police officer in the line of duty, in exchange for leniency in a criminal case is beyond the pale," he added.

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