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Florida Cops Dump Paralyzed Man From Wheelchair|
February 13, 2008
Four Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies have been suspended after purposely tipping a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair at a jail, authorities said Tuesday.
Orient Road Jail surveillance footage from Jan. 29 shows veteran deputy Charlette Marshall-Jones, 44, dumping Brian Sterner out of his wheelchair and searching him on the floor after he was brought in on a warrant after a traffic violation.
Sterner, 32, said when he was taken into a booking room and told to stand up, Jones grew agitated when he told her that he could not.
"She was irked that I wasn't complying to what she was telling me to do," he told The Tampa Tribune. "It didn't register with her that she was asking me to do something I can't do."
"When I saw that one deputy laugh, that's when I started to boil."
Sterner has been in a wheelchair for 14 years after breaking his neck in a teenage wrestling match, reports CBS News'The Early Show.
The Hillsborough sheriff's office says that they weren't aware of the incident until the tape was released by the media.
Jones has been suspended without pay, and Sgt. Gary Hinson, 51, Cpl. Steven Dickey, 45 and Cpl. Decondra Williams, 36 have also been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.
A woman who answered Jones' telephone said Jones was unavailable. A message left at a telephone number listed for a Steven Dickey in Tampa was not immediately returned Tuesday night. Listings for Hinson and Williams could not be located.
"The actions are indefensible at every level," Chief Deputy Jose Docobo said. "Based on what I saw, anything short of dismissal would be inappropriate."
"That none of the supervisors acted upon what they saw is of great concern," Docobo said. "This is not the norm at the sheriff's office."
He said the officers' actions were an aberration.
But accusations of physical abuse at the hands of police officers, often caught on videotape, are not uncommon.
In Canton, Ohio, a woman claims that that police wrongfully strip searched her.
Hope Steffey had called 911 because she said she'd been the victim of an assault but when police responded, a series of arguments and miscommunications led police to arrest her, reports The Early Show.
They later videotaped her being undressed by male and female officers while pleading with them to stop. She says when all of her clothing was removed, she was then left in a cell for six hours.
The Stark County sheriff denies Steffey's allegations.
As for Sterner, he was arrested at his Riverview home and taken to the jail Jan. 29 on a charge of fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, according to records. He posted $2,000 bond and was released Feb 3.
A warrant for Sterner's arrest was issued after an Oct. 25 incident, in which Tampa police stopped him in Ybor City. He was stopped while driving a Mini Cooper that had been fitted with hand pedals and was cited for blocking an intersection.
"My client was stopped that night and was given a traffic citation, so how could he be fleeing and eluding?" Sterner's lawyer John Trevena said. "We're very skeptical about the basis for the charge itself."
Trevena said he hopes authorities investigate the deputies for criminal charges. He said he was "mortified" when he watched the footage.
"I couldn't believe that a detention deputy would be so callous toward an individual, whether they were disabled or not," he said.
Sterner says he wants justice.
"I want a lot of exposure to what's probably been going on for a long time."
Police are investigating a case of what appears to be shocking police brutality caught on surveillance camera: a disabled man being dumped from his wheelchair inside a jail.
[ Last edited by gotohell at 2008-2-14 09:23 PM ]