Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Disturbing footage of US jail guards firing Tasers at inmates has prompted calls for a criminal investigation

A guard at Franklin County Jail in Ohio presses a Taser gun into the leg of inmate in December 2009
-A handcuffed man is Tasered after refusing to sit on a bench and another inmate is targeted for not removing a nipple ring.

There are calls for a criminal inquiry into the jail's Taser use

-A series of videos obtained by the Reuters news agency allegedly shows stun guns being used inappropriately against inmates at Franklin County Jail in Ohio.

-The footage includes Sergeant Mychal Turner firing a Taser at a mentally-ill man multiple times for refusing to stand in his cell, according to Reuters.

A handcuffed man who refuses to sit on a bench and another inmate who will not remove a nipple ring are also targeted in the videos, the news agency said.

The incidents violated the jail's Taser policy and were cited in a settled lawsuit that accused jail guards of "sadistic" and unconstitutional use of Tasers from 2008 to 2010, court records show.

Neither Mr Turner, who is now commander of Franklin County Corrections Center II, nor any of his deputies were disciplined over the incidents, according to internal county jail records.

Ohio state senator Charleta Tavares said the footage showed inmates being treated like "animals" and called for a criminal investigation.

A prison guard threatens to fire a Taser at an inmate who refuses to remove a nipple ring

"Do I believe those who are responsible should be held accountable? Absolutely," Ms Tavares said. "Whether it's today or whether it was back in 2009.

"Any time a stun gun is used inappropriately - particularly in the video, where it looks as though it is just used over and over and it's more like a prod that people would use on animals - that is criminal in my opinion."

Logan Amburgey, whose 21-year-old brother Patrick was stunned in June 2009 after defying orders to sit on a bench in his cell, said: "It's a gross abuse of power - it's really all it boils down to.

"There's no scenario, unless he's threatening their lives where that should ever happen.

"It was absolutely abuse."

In one video, a young woman is shown screaming while surrounded by jail guards as the sound of a Taser being fired can be heard.

Another video shows a man saying "I'm scared" while lying on the floor after being hit with a stun gun. An officer then tells him: "Get up. I'm going to ask you one more time or I'm going to Taser you again."

In another video, an inmate screams on the floor after a Taser is fired at him. After complaining that he cannot feel his legs, a stun gun is fired at him again before a guard says: "Stand up or you're going to get Tasered again."

Some 22 guards at Franklin County Jail used Tasers on 80 inmates from 2008 to 2010, with 60% of the incidents involving inmates classified by the jail as intoxicated or mentally ill, Reuters said.

According to the jail's Taser policy at the time, stun guns were allowed for self-defence, protection of another inmate or staff, disarming an inmate, preventing self-harm to an inmate, or controlling a combative inmate.

A spokesman for Franklin County told Sky News that lawyers and expert witnesses involved in the settled civil lawsuit reviewed all the videos between 2009 and 2015 and at "no time" claimed there was criminal misconduct.

"As a part of the resolution of that civil case the Franklin County Sheriff's Office agreed to modify its Taser use policies, procedures, training, and accountability," he said.

Mr Turner refused to comment, according to Reuters.

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