VIDEO: Manatee County deputy fired after video shows him using physical force against an inmate

Updated: May. 2, 2019 at 4:32 PM EDT
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SARASOTA (WWSB) - Following an investigation into excessive force against an inmate, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has fired 21-year-old Corrections Deputy Tyler LeMond.

LeMond, who was hired as a Corrections Deputy in 2017, was assigned to work in the medical pod of the Manatee County Central Jail on March 29, 2019 when the sheriff’s office says he went to check on an inmate after hearing a loud bang.

The inmate had been arrested three days before for trespassing and failing to appear for a misdemeanor charge, both non-violent offenses. Investigators say the inmate speaks Spanish, has limited comprehension of English and was in the medical pod “detoxing.”

In the video, after telling the inmate to move away from the door of a padded cell, which was covered with a curtain, you see LeMond enter and shove the inmate, causing him to fall backwards. While LeMond and a second deputy attempt to put the inmate in handcuffs, the sheriff’s office says LeMond kneed the inmate eight times, punched him and stomped on him.

The inmate did not file a complaint, but the incident supervisors reviewed the video and began an investigation on April 4, comparing the video to the incident report filed by LeMond.

The sheriff’s office says there were discrepancies, including:

  • LeMond wrote the inmate “grabbed onto my arm and attempted to pull me towards him. I used my open hands to palm checked (sic) [inmate] in the chest to create distance between he and I for officer safety.” But investigators say they found the footage shows LeMond entering and immediately shoving the inmate, writing, "no attempts to de-escalate or allow [the inmate] to comply are observed.
  • Later in the report, LeMond wrote, “he continued to resist my efforts by swinging his arms violently well (sic) thrashing his body around.” But investigators say that is clearly contrary to the video, “which depicts [the inmate] lying on his left side facing away from Deputy LeMond and against the wall, as one hand is held by Deputy LeMond and the other is outstretched in front of [the inmate] on the floor.”
  • LeMond also wrote he used “multiple discretionary knee an attempt to gain compliance,” but investigators say the force of the strikes caused the inmate’s head to hit the cell wall, adding, “the knee strikes appear to be fashioned towards pain infliction, rather than as a distraction tactic as noted in his report.”

Investigators also questioned LeMond’s account of the need for force, finding that the 48-year-old inmate, who is 5′4″ tall and around 160 pounds, had a “practically nonexistent” chance of having a weapon, that the inmate had been checked on every 30 minutes for the past two hours and nothing out of the ordinary was noted, that the inmate was “not displaying any aggressive posture,” and the inmate was in the medical unit to detox and was classified as a “fall risk.”

In an interview with LeMond about the incident, investigators say LeMond acknowledged that he could see how the use of force could be viewed as excessive, but it was not how he perceived the incident, that he felt the inmate forcefully and aggressively grabbed him in an effort to pull him into the cell, and “from my point of view that was all necessary and justified.”

Investigators sustained charges against LeMond of conduct unbecoming and unlawful conduct, finding his use of force excessive. On April 16, the sheriff’s office sent a capias request for battery to the State Attorney’s Office, which will make a determination whether or not to file criminal charges against LeMond.

“There is no place for this type of in Law Enforcement,” Sheriff Rick Wells said. “It will not be tolerated at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.”

On April 24, the sheriff’s office fired LeMond.

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