Sheriff David Gee’s Comments Concerning the Treatment of a Disabled Arrestee

Published: February 15, 2008  |  Source: hcso.tampa.fl.us
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On January 29, 2008, Mr. Brian Sterner was dumped out of a wheelchair by a Hillsborough County Detention Deputy at the Orient Road jail. The video of the incident has been seen around the world. The public was quick to express their anger and resentment about the treatment of Mr. Sterner. I too was outraged at what happened. The actions and inactions of my deputies during this incident have cast a negative light on this agency. The hardworking and dedicated deputies and civilians at this office deserve better. They perform their jobs with pride and integrity, and realize the public’s trust is something they must earn every day.

I promised the citizens of Hillsborough County a swift and thorough investigation into this incident. What happened to Mr. Sterner was a disgrace. It was also a crime. I am announcing tonight, February 15, 2008, the issuance of an arrest warrant for Charlette Marshall-Jones, the Deputy who dumped Mr. Sterner from his wheelchair. Ms. Marshall-Jones is charged with Abuse of a Disabled Person, a third-degree felony. Three supervisors remain on suspension while the Internal investigation continues. I do not know when it will conclude, but there will be accountability.

Mr. Sterner was a victim of a crime in our jail at the hands of a Detention Deputy who brought disgrace to this office and every employee here. To say this is unacceptable is an understatement. I apologize again to Mr. Sterner. I also want to apologize to the citizens of Hillsborough County. I will do everything in my power to rectify this situation and assure the citizens this will never happen again. I will not attempt to explain why a deputy dumped a man from his wheelchair. There can be no rational explanation. I don’t think I will ever understand the reasoning for such actions.

In the coming days and weeks, we will also cooperate fully with any other official investigations and reviews of this incident.

What occurred on January 29, 2008 was not about the lack of training or policy. This was about the inexcusable and indefensible act of one deputy. The video speaks for itself. I am speaking for the men and women of this office who are as ashamed of this incident as everyone else.

As Sheriff I am accountable for the actions, both good and bad, of my deputies. I believe the public is confident the Sheriff’s Office is about integrity and accountability. We receive comments daily about the wonderful job deputies do. I would ask the public to not let this aberration destroy their confidence in this agency. We will continue to do what the public expects and justice demands.