PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Johnnie Simmons, the former inmate who says he was brutally choked by an officer in the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, will get his day in court.

A judge ruled on Tuesday that there is enough evidence to move the case against former master jail officer Robert Whitaker to circuit court.

In a previous interview, Simmons had told WAVY-TV 10 that he thought he was going to die on Feb. 8, 2019. That’s when he said several jail officers who were trying to get him to move to a different part of the jail got physical with him. Simmons claimed that Whitaker choked him so brutally he passed out.

“He took me away from the other officers, and he’s choking me, and said ‘Are you going to comply?’” Simmons said. “I tried to say ‘Yes.’ I tried to say ‘I can’t breathe.’”

Whitaker, whose attorney did not respond to multiple requests for comment, has not worked for the jail for the last two years. Court paperwork describes him as “polite and cooperative.”

In court on Tuesday, Whitaker and two other former jail officers who were there during the alleged assault told the judge that Simmons’ claims about getting choked simply aren’t true.

The former officers told the judge that yes, they did have to put their hands on Simmons, who was in the jail because of a malicious wounding conviction. They said that was because he was attempting to bite and kick them while refusing to comply with their instructions — but that Whitaker never put his hands on Simmons’ neck.

The defense also pointed out that, by his own admission, Simmons suffers from memory problems.

There is also a video, which was shown to the judge, of the jailhouse altercation. Simmons watched it and become visibly emotional.

After hearing testimony on both sides of the case, she told the court, “we are still somewhere between lies and the truth.” With that, she ordered the case to move forward to the circuit court.