Deputy Charlette Marshall-Jones became a reluctant celebrity this past week because she was allegedly caught in the act of being herself while deliberately tossing a handicapped quadriplegic man from his wheel chair onto the floor of the Orient Road jail in Hillsborough County, Florida, which includes the Tampa Bay area in its jurisdiction.
The incident occurred on January 29, 2008, after the victim and also alleged traffic offender, one Brian Sterner, 32, was arrested for a traffic violation. Sterner became a partial quadriplegic when he broke his neck in 1994 in a wrestling accident.
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He does have sufficient use of his arms to enable him to drive a car legally, although it seems that at least one Hillsborough County Deputy felt that Sterner’s driving was not performed legally last January 29th, the day he was arrested.
The only reason that Deputy Marshall-Jones was caught misbehaving was because of the closed circuit TV cameras in the jail. If the cameras had not been present in the jail, Deputy Marshall-Jones would have gotten off scot free.
When reporters questioned the Hillsborough Sheriff’s office initially, the office spokesperson denied any impropriety had been performed by any of Hillsborough’s finest.
When confronted with the act on video tape, the Sheriff’s office soon changed its tune however. A warrant was issued for Ms. Marshall-Jones’ arrest, and she has been charged with Abuse of a Disabled Person, which is a 3rd degree felony in Hillsborough County.
Marshall-Jones has been suspended from duties without pay, and three of her supervisors, two corporals and a sergeant are on administrative leave with pay.
The video of the incident has been seen around the world, but many in other countries have dismissed it as part of America’s inevitable fall from grace.
Sheriff David Gee has issued a press release that this was the act of one deputy, but that does not wash. Other deputies were in the vicinity of the incident and none of them even blinked an eye. That tells me that this is not the first time something like this has happened in Hillsborough County.
The victim, David Sterner, spent five days in jail before posting a $2,000 bail.
And what was Mr. Sterner’s crime against the community of Hillsborough County that warranted his incarceration in the first place? He was reportedly seen driving 5 mph in a 30 mph zone, while waving his arms around inside his car.
Hillsborough County has a spokesperson, Debbie Carter, that handles complaints or compliments from the public. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Ordinarily I would not release an email address, but I believe that sending the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office a note about how you feel about this incident might be warranted.
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