Crime

Deputy caught on video shoving inmate has been fired, Harrison County sheriff says

A deputy videotaped while shoving an inmate into a transport van has been terminated, Sheriff Troy Peterson said.

The sheriff declined to release the deputy's name or the inmate's name when he announced the results of an internal investigation on Thursday.

Investigation of what happened in the Harrison County Courthouse parking lot on Monday shows deputies had removed a disorderly inmate from a transport van because he was "causing a disruption with other inmates," Peterson said.

Deputies were trying to put the inmate in another van when one deputy and an inmate began to argue, he said.

"The deputy was required to use force to place the inmate in the transport vehicle to return him to the Harrison County Adult Detention Center," Peterson said.

Transport deputies routinely take jail inmates to and from courthouses for hearings.

The deputy was fired Thursday after an administration hearing.

The deputy violated departmental policies and procedures, Peterson said.

An internal investigation began after a complaint was lodged Tuesday, he said, and the viewing of a video shared hundreds of times on social media.

The sheriff's department's internal affairs office reviewed the video filmed in the parking lot and footage from courthouse security cameras, Peterson said.

Peachrich Pouerie McLemore was in a vehicle at the courthouse and told one of her sons to video the incident on Monday. McLemore told the Sun Herald she saw a deputy slam a shackled inmate's head against the van and wanted to record what was happening.

McLemore said it looked like the inmate and the deputy were arguing before she saw the first sign of mistreatment.

The video shared on social media shows the deputy shove the inmate into the van. Just before that, it appears the inmate had stiffened his feet, bracing himself at the back of the van, to prevent being pushed into the vehicle.

Peterson on Wednesday confirmed he had started an internal investigation and placed the deputy on administrative leave pending the outcome of an administrative hearing.

Civil service protection allows the deputy to appeal his termination within 10 days.

It wasn't clear Thursday if the fired deputy will appeal the decision.

An internal investigation is not the same as a civil service hearing.

The Harrison County Civil Service Commission is an independent panel tasked with looking out for employees' best interest and to make sure that decisions such as firing and suspension are not based on political issues or motives or wrong decisions.

The commission oversees and approves personnel rules and policies of the sheriff's office, to include the hiring, firing, demoting or suspending of employees.

High-ranking deputies, like sheriffs, chief deputies and majors, do not receive civil service protection.

The sheriff's department, like most law enforcement agencies, has a use-of-force policy and levels of force that deputies are trained to use.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews
  Comments