Video: Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond to review excessive force policy

Video: Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond to review excessive force policy

November 21st, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

A screen capture from surveillance video at the Hamilton County Jail, left, shows corrections officers Daniel Harden and Andrew Standifer holding inmate Stephen Minney as he was moved from booking to a holding cell Sept. 17.

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Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said the department's excessive force policy may be revisited after two corrections deputies did not follow procedure with an intoxicated inmate.

The policy on excessive force should be tightened up, according to a memo from Hammond in the internal affairs file on the incident.

"What I wanted to do was make sure this particular case - was it what it was reported to be? [The issue is] not about them being adequately trained, but about whether the training is the best it can be," Hammond said. "We have a responsibility to keep the inmates safe and jailers safe. Anything used is going to be constantly reviewed, depending on issues that come to forefront."

On Sept. 18, corrections officers Daniel Harden and Andrew Standifer moved 55-year-old Stephen Minney from the booking area to a holding cell. While they were placing him in the cell, Minney got a cut on his head.

Minney, a homeless man, was arrested by East Ridge police officers on charges of public intoxication after he was found walking near Parkridge Medical Center. He was verbally abusive and uncooperative, according to multiple reports.

Video footage from the incident shows Harden and Standifer placing Minney into a cell. It shows Standifer putting his right knee to Minney's back as Minney was taken to the floor.

The Times Free Press submitted an open records request Oct. 26 for the video, which was made available Nov. 15. Officials said it took weeks to consult with legal counsel before releasing the footage.

The review of the use of force policy is part of a routine and ongoing review of all department policies, officials said.

Beyond escorting an inmate and using empty-hand control, use of pepper spray or a Taser is considered the next level of force, according to the policy.

Standifer and Harden could not be reached for comment. In interviews with investigators, both officers said they were unaware of any procedures related to moving disruptive inmates in the jail to the holding area. Both officers have worked at the sheriff's office for about a year.

Hammond said corrections officers receive most of their training on how to handle inmates through in-service training. He said in each case dealing with inmates is different.

The officers' supervisor, Sgt. Kelvin Pell, also was disciplined for not intervening sooner, according to the report. Pell and the officers were all suspended for one day.