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3 county jail officers arrested

3 county jail officers arrested
3 county jail officers arrested
Adams (click for larger version)

Three Harrison County Jail corrections officers were arrested Monday afternoon at the jail following a 13-week Indiana State Police investigation into allegations of abuse by Tevin Bald, an 18-year-old black male from Louisville who said he was tortured while incarcerated at the jail.
Arrested were Sheila K. Barber, 55, of Corydon and Zachariah (Nathan) Adams, 25, and Ross Timberlake, 30, both of Depauw. All three turned themselves in to ISP detectives at the jail after arrest warrants were issued out of Harrison Superior Court. They were released the same evening after posting full cash bonds; $4,000 by Adams and $2,500 each by Timberlake and Barber.
ISP Sgt. Jerry Goodin, public information officer for the ISP post at Sellersburg, called the investigation ‘very lengthy and complex.’
Goodin also said that ‘any time a law enforcement officer is arrested it gives a black eye to all law enforcement,’ but the public shouldn’t judge all officers by the actions of a few.
Adams was charged with Class C felony battery, Class D felony criminal recklessness and Class A misdemeanor battery, while Barber and Timberlake each face two counts apiece of Class D felony assisting a criminal. All three have received no-contact orders, preventing them from having contact with inmates at the jail.
Harrison County Prosecutor Dennis Byrd, who filed the felony charges after receiving the ISP detectives’ report, said none of the three jailers admitted to doing anything and that he couldn’t comment on the case because of other pending allegations.
However, he did say that he hopes a message has been sent to other corrections officers that their handling of inmates had ‘better be proper and legal’ and that inmates should not be mistreated.
‘Inmates allege stuff all the time,’ Byrd said. ‘We have to sort through it.’
In Bald’s case, in May, the teenager was allegedly placed in a padded cell where he was made to strip naked, placed in a restraint chair and had a spit mask and hood placed over his face. According to the claim, Adams and Timberlake ‘maliciously sprayed the inside of the spit mask with mace and/or pepper spray which caused extreme physical and emotional trauma and pain and suffering to Tevin Bald.’
According to officers’ reports, pepper spray also was released into the area where Bald was being kept.
Bald was forced to remain in the mace-laden spit mask for more than an hour without any medical treatment.
According to jail commander Nathan Simpson’s report, he was directed by Harrison County Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick to ‘do what we had to do’ regarding Adams’ alleged actions. Simpson said he was advised by Harrison County Attorney John Colin to terminate Adams’ employment immediately because of the severity of the incident and Adams’ ‘write-up history.’
Simpson’s report said that he notified Adams of his termination, and Adams admitted to making a mistake and apologized for his actions. Three days later, Adams was rehired.
‘Lt. (Nathan) Banet advised me that Sheriff Deatrick had called him over to speak to him regarding (Adams) and bringing him back to work. (Banet) stated that Sheriff Deatrick had stated that Adams was just stupid and had made a mistake, and that since Adams’ grandfather knew the commissioners that he would bring him back to work to avoid any grief from them (commissioners),’ Simpson’s report stated.
Amie Newlon, Bald’s public defender in his original charges of counterfeiting and forgery, said Bald was being denied the right to clean his cell, which is what eventually led to the incident. Bald allegedly tore a mop bucket apart and was standing on a table with water on the floor of his cell at one point during the initial encounter with the jailers.
Newlon said Monday that she was thrilled and ecstatic about the recent turn of events.
‘We are so glad that, finally, justice has been served in this case,’ Newlon said, noting that the jailers are innocent until proven guilty. ‘The police have done their job, and the prosecutor has done his job.’
Attorney John L. Smith of the Faith-Ingle-Smith law firm, which has filed numerous tort claims against the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, echoed Newlon’s comments.
‘Justice is now beginning to be served,’ Smith said. ‘I’ve met with no less than two dozen inmates, and we continue to investigate allegations of abuse, the denial of medical treatment and the denial of medications. At some point, we’re starting to see a pattern in this.’
Adams, Barber and Timberlake are scheduled for a pre-trial conference in December.