By Eddie Burkhalter, Researcher from the Appleseed report Afterward
Bryttian Linn’s mother, Jamie Linn, made the call to the sheriff’s office to protect her children.
When the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived at their home, Jamie Linn hoped it would be the end of the death threats to her family from a man who said he’d kill them all, but especially “that faggot,” as the man called Bryttian Linn, Jamie’s 26-year-old.
The call did result in an arrest – but not of the man who was issuing threats. Instead, Bryttian Linn, the subject of those threats, was the one handcuffed and taken to jail.
Bryttian Linn was assigned male at birth. While she does not identify as transgender, she uses female pronouns and wears her brown hair long, wavy and loose, often paired with lipstick and feminine clothing. She prefers to go by her last name.
“Did you know you have a warrant?” Linn said the deputy asked her at the door of their home, after running her driver’s license. “She told me it was for tickets.”
The deputy placed Linn in handcuffs and drove her 18 miles from her home just outside of Jacksonville to the Calhoun County jail. Because her feminine presentation put her at risk of violence from other people incarcerated in the area of the jail reserved for men, Linn was placed in a cell alone, without running water or a working toilet and held for six days before a judge decided to release her.
Months earlier, Linn had been pulled over by a state trooper. Her sister was in the back seat and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. She didn’t have auto insurance, and was ticketed for both, but couldn’t afford to pay the fines and court fees so a hearing was set to discuss payment. Linn said she was in court in August and understood the judge to have agreed to push back that court date, so she didn’t attend the September hearing. Her October arrest warrant was for a failure to appear charge related to that misunderstanding.
The deputy who arrested Linn took a report on the death threats and told Jamie Linn she’d have to follow up on the report if she wanted to press charges. That didn’t happen, because after Linn’s arrest, Jamie’s focus shifted to getting Linn out of jail – and for good reason.
Linn had been sexually assaulted in the Calhoun County Jail in 2020, after a different arrest over other traffic tickets. Seeking to prevent that from happening again, jail staff in October placed her in a segregated unit. While Linn was protected against violence from other incarcerated people, the cell was dangerous in its own right.
“I didn’t have any running water. It was horrible. I didn’t have a working toilet. The smell in there…It smelled like death,” Linn said. “There was blood splatter on the bedframe and on the walls.”
Deputies gave her a gallon of water when she first entered the cell. A sign outside the door warned deputies not to let Linn out, or anyone else in, Linn said. She never received an identification card that the jail requires in order to make phone calls, and only after five days of her and other inmates begging officers to let her out, an officer left the cell door open without saying a word, she borrowed an ID card from another incarcerated person and called her mother.
A Calhoun County District Court employee told Jamie that Linn could only be released from jail if she paid the court $405 for those two tickets and fines and fees from older tickets. The family didn’t have the money.
Six days after her arrest, Linn finally saw the judge by video from the jail. He released her soon after without requiring payment.
Linn said the ordeal has left her with “extreme anxiety” and depression. Her driver’s license is suspended, making traveling anywhere – for work, to do the community service the court wants her to do in lieu of payment – dangerous and challenging. The fact that her October arrest was precipitated by a phone call that was intended to remove a threat that came from a man who wanted to kill her because of her identity makes things worse.
“Just being here and dealing with all of this. I’m just tired,” Linn said.
The arrest has made both Linn and her mother leery of calling the police again. “Scared to,” Jamie Linn said, but especially if it has anything to do with Linn.
“I’m so tired,” Linn said. “It’s been hard before, but it’s never been this hard.”