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A deputy roughly dumps a man out of a wheelchair


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This is not even close to being over; even a bruise CAN cause life threatening problems "Poor blood circulation, skin break downs, I'm sure you get the idea".

I hope the lawyer he has sues the living bleep out of "Charlette Marshall-Jones ".


Apparently Discrimination is NOT limited to skin color.



By MIKE WELLS, The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 13, 2008


TAMPA - A deputy roughly dumps a man out of a wheelchair, and he tumbles to the floor.

Brian Sterner lands on his ribs, then rolls over and lies on his back while Hillsborough County Detention Deputy Charlette Marshall-Jones checks his pockets before she and another deputy put him back in the chair.


These moments were recorded Jan. 29 by cameras in Orient Road Jail. The video has repulsed many and resulted in the suspension of Marshall-Jones, a 44-year-old deputy with 22 years on the job, and her supervisors.


Sterner, 32, can drive a car, but he hasn't been able to walk for 14 years.

He said he told Marshall-Jones as much when he was booked into jail on a traffic-related charge.

She didn't believe him, he said.


Sheriff David Gee said he was at a loss for words after viewing the video.

"This was not a training issue," Gee said late Tuesday. "It's a human decency issue. I can't imagine any explanation she might have.


"It's like being a blackjack dealer in Vegas," the sheriff said of the surveillance system. "I put those cameras in there for a reason. They're to protect the deputies as much as the suspects who are brought in."


Deputies arrested Sterner, 32, on a warrant from Tampa police at his home in Riverview. He posted bail and was freed Feb. 3.

Gee said he was told by his staff that Marshall-Jones has a good record and there have been no similar complaints against her.

The sheriff is in Jacksonville at a Florida Sheriff's Association meeting, leaving Chief Deputy Jose Docobo in command.


After watching the tape Monday, Docobo ordered Marshall-Jones to be immediately suspended without pay, he said. Three of her supervisors who were visible on the tape were suspended with pay.

'Indefensible, At Every Level'


"The actions are indefensible, at every level," Docobo said. "Based on what I saw, anything short of dismissal would be inappropriate."

Sterner's attorney, John Trevena, said he wants Marshall-Jones charged with felony battery and wants her supervisors to be disciplined and to undergo mandatory retraining so that this kind of incident is not repeated.


Gee said he spoke to Trevena early Tuesday evening and conveyed his feelings on the matter.

"I'm embarrassed, professionally and personally," the sheriff said. "I can't offer an explanation."

An internal affairs investigation is reviewing the actions by Marshall-Jones and the three supervisors: Cpl. Decondra Williams, 36; Cpl. Steve Dickey, 45; and Sgt. Gary Hinson, 51. Investigators had not interviewed the deputy or her supervisors, Docobo said.


No reports were filed about the incident, so investigators are trying to determine what the supervisors knew, Docobo said. Each of the three appears at various times on the video, but none intervenes with Marshall-Jones. Dickey walks into the frame from the side and appears to smile as he walks away.

"That none of the supervisors acted upon what they saw is of great concern," Docobo said. "This is not the norm at the sheriff's office. It's an aberration."

Phone messages left for Marshall-Jones and Hinson were not immediately responded to. A number could not be found for Williams.


Dickey declined to comment on the investigation when reached by telephone. He is president of the Hillsborough detention deputies' chapter of the West Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents deputies.


There are more than 30 other inmates in jail who use wheelchairs, and their special needs are nothing new to the department, Docobo said.


The sheriff's office has a policy to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also requires "an intake nurse to assess inmates upon admission for evidence of a disability or special management need."


Sterner has been without the use of his legs since a wrestling accident in 1994, he said. He has no feeling below his sternum and has partial use of his arms. Trevena says his client is classified as a quadriplegic.


Sterner has been a wheelchair rugby player and has a master's degree in philosophy from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. He was director for the Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center for about four years until 2006, he said. In January, he was laid off from a job selling wheelchair vans, Sterner said.


Problem Started With Traffic Ticket

He drives a Mini Cooper outfitted with hand controls. On Oct. 25, Tampa police ticketed him, saying he blocked an intersection, court records show. He later was charged with a third-degree felony of fleeing to elude an officer in connection with the same incident.


Trevena called the felony charge questionable. "He made no attempt to evade," Trevena said. "He made one turn and stopped."


On Jan. 12, Sterner was ticketed again. The citation says he was driving with a suspended license without knowledge, meaning he didn't know his license was suspended, Trevena said. He wasn't arrested at the time because the felony warrant had not been filed.


A deputy arrived at his Riverview home on Jan. 29 to serve the warrant.

Sterner was brought into the booking room in a wheelchair owned by the jail. Marshall-Jones ordered him to stand, Sterner said. He told her he couldn't.


"She was irked that I wasn't complying to what she was telling me to do," he said. "It didn't register with her that she was asking me to do something I can't do."

Sterner said he thought he had suffered two cracked ribs, but it turned out to be bruising, Trevena said. An X-ray showed no fractures.


Marshall-Jones offered no apologies, Sterner said. "Not one word."

He was released five days later after posting $2,000 bail, records show.


Sterner said his stay was made even more humiliating when he had a bowel accident and was left to sit in his waste for three or four hours until a staff member helped him clean up.

Joseph DiDomenico of Self Reliance, a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities live independently, said he was disgusted by what happened to Sterner. DiDomenico said Sterner was a client several years ago.


"He could've been hurt," he said. "The longer you're a quadriplegic, the more brittle your bones become. It stunned me."


Sterner will make appearances today on NBC's "Today" show, CNN and the syndicated news magazine "Inside Edition" to talk about the treatment he received, Trevena said.

Trevena said the sheriff's office "seems to be headed in the right direction" by offering an apology for Marshall-Jones' actions but that his client deserves more.

"When she's arrested, then I'll believe they're serious about it," he said.

Reporter Mike Wells

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