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Deputies dump paralyzed man from wheelchair

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Uploaded on Feb 12, 2008

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that one of their own deputies is in trouble after she was caught on tape dumping a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair while he was being booked into jail.

Investigators say Deputy Charlotte Marshall Jones is suspended without pay after the January 29 incident, which involved 32-year-old Brian Sterner, who is a quadriplegic. Video shows Deputy Jones dumping Sterner out of his wheelchair and onto the floor while she is booking him into the Hillsborough County Jail. The tape also shows the deputy then searching Sterner as he lay on the floor.

Sterner reportedly suffered a spine injury during a wrestling accident when he was 18, and that left him bound to his wheelchair. Records show his arrest was due to charges of fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer from an incident on October 25, 2007. Those same records show Sterner was cited at that time for blocking an intersection.

On Tuesday, Chief Deputy Jose Docobo spoke to the media about the incident. He said after looking at the video himself, he was astonished.

"I was appalled," said Docobo. "Obviously the actions are indefensible at every level."

Docobo also said that the supervisors who were in central processing at the time of the incident have been suspended with pay. They include Corporal Decondra Williams, Corporal Steven Dickie, and Sergeant Gary Hinson.

While an investigation into the incident is still to come, Docobo said he feels all those involved in the incident should be held responsible for their actions—or their lack of actions. The video shows several people in the room at the time of the incident, and none of them came to Sterner's aide.

"Certainly all the personnel are entitled to due process under the law, but I can tell you that based on what I saw, anything short of dismissal would be inappropriate," said Docobo.

Deputy Jones has been employed with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office since 1986.

Docobo explained that though Sterner was in a wheelchair, deputies are used to dealing with this type of situation. He said there are currently more than 30 wheelchair patients in the county's jails, and this is nothing new for deputies.

"What this boils down to is just treating an individual correctly," he said. "You don't need a policy to tell you that you don't treat someone like this."

According to Docobo, the department will do whatever it can to make the situation with Sterner right.

"The best I could do is offer him our apologies," said Docobo. "There's no excuse. This is indefensible. To the extent that we can make it right for this gentleman, we'll attempt to do so."


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