Arrest Warrant Against Woman Prison Official Who Ill-treated a Quadriplegic

by Medindia Content Team on  February 16, 2008 at 5:27 PM General Health News
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Arrest Warrant Against Woman Prison Official Who Ill-treated a Quadriplegic
An arrest warrant has been issued against Charlette Marshall-Jones, a Florida prison official, for ill-treating a paralyzed man.

She has already been suspended without pay.

She was caught on videotape heaving the man off his wheelchair, throwing him on the floor and then searching him. The incident has caused sensation in the US.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said he was at a loss for words after viewing a video of the incident that took place at the county detention center. Ms.Jones is a deputy to Gee.

The victim was Brian Sterner, 32, taken in for a traffic violation Jan. 29. He cannot walk although he can drive a car.

"Miss Marshall-Jones has been made aware of the charges against her, but as of this moment has not turned herself in and we do not know her whereabouts," Sheriff David Gee said at a news conference Friday.

Marshall-Jones was notified of the arrest warrant a few hours earlier, he said, and deputies were surprised she hadn't gotten in touch with them about turning herself in. Gee said a judge had already set her bail at $3,500.

The sheriff said Marshall-Jones wouldl face a charge of abuse of the disabled, a third-degree felony. She has not been fired but remains on unpaid leave, Gee said.

Also Friday, Brian Sternersaid there was a second incident of abuse involving him at the jail.

John Trevena, Sterner's attorney, would not elaborate on the incident other than to say it involved Marshall-Jones and another person, happened while Sterner was being fingerprinted and wasn't caught on camera. Gee said he wasn't familiar with the second incident.

Trevena also said deputies told him there were more camera angles than have been publicly aired showing what happened when Marshall-Jones tipped Sterner out of his chair.

He said he was pleased Friday after learning Marshall-Jones had been charged with abuse of the disabled.

"That's exactly the charge we were calling for," he said.

Late Friday afternoon, Sterner gave a statement at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Trevena said. Gee directly apologized to Sterner.

Sterner arrived in his wheelchair at the sheriff's office in Ybor City just after 5 p.m. Internal affairs Sgt. Dan Tewmey held the door for him.

In an interview later, Sterner talked about how society treated the disabled. He mostly stayed away from talking about the specifics of the incident caught on tape and the second incident he said was not captured.

"The video speaks for itself," he said .

Sterner did say Marshall-Jones tried to make him stand even though he couldn't and that he was working hard to control his emotions and his actions throughout the incident.

"If you watch my face, I'm trying to not be charged with something else like resisting arrest. I can't believe that she doesn't believe I'm really quadriplegic."

The incident has grabbed attention across the nation. One clip of it on YouTube has been viewed about 100,000 times. Sterner said he hoped what happened to him drew attention to how the disabled were often treated, saying, "It exposes how the disabled and the economically depressed are treated in this country."

"It's really been a glimpse at how corrupt the system is," he said. "The system is out of control. I don't pretend or think to have all the answers, but the way people are treated has got to change."

As to the long-term impact of the incident, Sterner was circumspect.

"Hopefully this makes the world a better place."

Chief Deputy Jose Docobo said the sheriff's office was reviewing all recordings of jail bookings involving the estimated 30 people now in custody who use wheelchairs. The review will take a couple of days, he said.

In a news conference Friday morning, Sheriff Gee said a criminal investigation into Sterner's treatment at Orient Road Jail in January was focusing on the guard who tipped the inmate over.

On Jan. 29, video cameras recorded Marshall-Jones, 44, raising the back of a wheelchair and sending Sterner tumbling to the floor. Sterner, of Riverview, was taken to the jail on a warrant stemming from a traffic violation.

Gee said Friday the others in the room at the time, who did nothing, likely would not be charged.

Three of Marshall-Jones' supervisors initially were suspended with pay: Cpl. Steve Dickey, Cpl. Decondra Williams and Sgt. Gary Hinson. Williams has since been placed on unpaid leave, Gee said.

Denise McElwee, who worked as a nurse at the jail from 2004 to 2006, said Marshall-Jones was a highly regarded deputy and she never saw an inmate abused in the jail when she worked there.

"The video, if you watch it, and you don't know her, it appears to be horrific," McElwee said. "I just think there are more facts to this story. But they're out to hang her."

Gee said he found it troubling not only that the disabled man was dumped to the floor but also that none of the other corrections deputies did anything to help.

"People who should have taken action didn't," he regretted.

Source: Medindia

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