published Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Hamilton County: Inmate’s treatment prompts disciplinary action

Three Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputies were suspended without pay for a day after an intoxicated inmate was roughed for not following oral commands, according to an internal affairs report released Friday.

Corrections officers Daniel Harden and Andrew Standifer were placed on a one-day suspension for violating general orders for excessive force and failing to fill out a use of force report.

Their supervisor, Sgt. Kelvin Pell, also was given a day of suspension because he was not immediately aware of the situation and did not intervene.

The inmate, a 55-year-old Florida man, was arrested on a charge of public intoxication and sustained a laceration to the left side of his face when he was booked.

Stephen Minney was arrested by East Ridge police after he was found walking near Parkridge Medical Center, intoxicated and acting unruly on Sept. 18, according to the arrest report.

No one checked on Minney in the holding cell until the following day when they noticed dried blood from the laceration.

When a new shift officer came on duty and asked what happened, Minney said, “You ought to know, you and your officers beat my [butt].”

Minney was given medical treatment at the jail for the wound.

When Minney was booked, the corrections officers described him as verbally abusive and uncooperative, according to the report.

In the booking area, the officers both grabbed each of Minney’s arms and took him to the intake countertop, and then to a holding cell.

During interviews with investigators, Harden said he forgot what happened. After viewing the video, he said Minney “got slammed around a lot,” by Standifer.

Harden and Standifer said they were both unaware of any protocol relating to unruly inmates. Harden said the actions taken with Minney were consistent with how they normally deal with inmates.

Standifer said during his training it was stressed that, “The No. 1 thing is officer safety.”

A training officer viewed the video footage and stated that if an inmate is intoxicated to the point of falling down, they must be checked by medical staff.

Corrections Officer Terry Jeffries, who is assigned to the training division, said Minney was not physically combative. He said pepper spray or a Taser could have been used rather than physical force. He described the actions taken against Minney as excessive, which included being shoved against the wall and then thrown to the floor. Standifer also placed his knee in Standifer’s back.

“The actions of Officer Standifer were just uncalled for, 100 percent,” Jeffries told investigators.

Neither Harden or Standifer received a booking training course, according to the report.

The sheriff’s office declined to release the video footage Friday, stating they would need to consult with legal counsel.

Harden and Standifer have been employed by the sheriff’s office for about a year. This is the first complaint of excessive force for both. Harden and Standifer could not be reached for comment.

Minney told jail personnel he planned to consult an attorney.

Another jailer in an unrelated incident resigned after she reportedly had a romantic relationship with an inmate proven by jail phone calls. The sheriff’s office never completed an investigative report.

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