Jackson County

Lawsuit: Former Jackson County jail detainee says he was victim of alleged assault

GULFPORT -- A former Jackson County jail inmate has filed suit against Jackson County, Sheriff Mike Byrd, Maj. Brian Grady and the county's insurance carrier alleging he was the victim of civil and constitutional violations when sheriff's deputies took him into custody, placed him in a restraint chair with a "spit bag" placed over his head and beat him, according to court records.

Attorneys Adam Miller and Douglas Tynes filed the suit seeking unspecified damages in U.S. District Court on behalf of Dwight Braswell. The allegations of abuse and cruel and unusual punishment allegedly occurred after Braswell was taken into custody on April 29, 2012, on charges of misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Afterwards, the suit says, Braswell, then considered a pre-trial detainee, was taken to the Jackson County jail, where a deputy first slapped him in the face when they arrived in the garage at the jail.

Once he was brought inside the jail, the suit says, deputies placed Braswell in a holding cell before he was taken to Singing River Hospital for treatment of a laceration to his right wrist. As he was getting out of the patrol car at the hospital, the suit says, a deputy attempted to knee Braswell in the groin.

Braswell was then admitted to the hospital, the suit says, and while there a deputy "deliberately dug his finger" into Braswell's laceration in order "to cause pain and open up the wound."

When Braswell cried for help, court papers say, the deputy allegedly placed his thumb in Braswell's neck to stop him from screaming for help. When Braswell was being discharged, a deputy then grabbed Braswell and allegedly dragged him out of the hospital's emergency room.

According to the suit, it was after deputies returned Braswell to the Jackson County jail that he was placed in a restraint chair with a "spit bag" over his head and was beaten by two deputies. The deputies then placed Braswell in a holding cell, the suit says, where he asked for water and other assistance though his requests went unanswered. Subsequently, the suit says, a deputy used a Taser on Braswell and put him back in a restraint chair in an area where tear gas was believed to be in the room.

Braswell was taken to the Singing River Hospital's emergency room a second time for evaluation after the alleged beating and treated for bruises to his scalp and face.

Braswell, the suit says, suffered bodily injury in the alleged assault on him while in the custody of sheriff's deputies.

The Sun Herald was unable to reach Jackson County attorneys Monday to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is one of a number of lawsuits filed against Byrd, several sheriff's deputies, Jackson County and the county insurance carrier in the last year.