Alleged Jail Beating Prompts Internal Investigation in Craighead County

April 2, 2004 -- Posted at 5:15 p.m. CST

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY -- An alleged case of prisoner abuse has led to an internal investigation within the Craighead County Sheriff's Department. A Craighead County man claims he was beaten by members of the Brookland Police Department and jailers at the Craighead County Detention Center.

"I've been in trouble all my life and I'm not looking for sympathy...I'm looking for somebody to stop this. I'm sure it's happened before and I don't want it to happen again," said alleged victim Terry O'Neil.
 O'Neil laid in bed Friday with a dislocated knee, multiple bruises and a left eye that's swollen shut. He says what happened was a savage beating at the hands of Brookland police and jailers at the Craighead County Detention Center.

And he admits, he's no angel. But says he didn't deserve what happened to him Wednesday night.

"The law works two ways, they can do a good job for you or they can do this to you," said O'Neil as he struggled to reach for a bottle of pain medication.

O'Neil says he and his girlfriend Dana McDaniel first encountered the Brookland police after returning home from a local store after buying cigarettes, and that's when he says the first of the alleged beatings happened. He and McDaniel were detained after Brookland police officials asked to search their home. But he says when he questioned the search, that's when the beatings started, with both he and McDaniel shocked with a tazer gun.

"Never did I provoke or resist at any time. I was just beaten," said O'Neil, fighting tears.

But it didn't stop there....O'Neil says the beatings continued once he arrived at the jail.

"They pulled me out of the car handcuffed, about five or six jailers took me into a room, beat me for at least four or five minutes probably...I mean it was horrible. They were tazing me, they kicked me in the eye...they strapped me in a chair and left me. I heard them arguing about what they were going to do because they knew I was hurt," said O'Neil.

He was taken to St. Bernard's hospital where doctors originally thought he might lose vision in his left eye, but now believe he'll be ok. O'Neil said he's not sure why this happened to him but has a guess.

"I think because the Craighead County Sheriff's Department is out of control. There's no doubt in my mind about it. I had two drug task force members tell me, 'you think that's something, that ain't nothing yet' and I think that's why," said O'Neil.

Sheriff Jack McCann says he's appalled by what has happened to O'Neil and is conducting an internal investigation, and once that is completed, a criminal investigation will follow.

"I would call a bizarre incident and is completely out of the relm of normal, if you want to call it that...and we have a lot of good employees out here," said Sheriff McCann.

While Sheriff McCann couldn't comment on O'Neil's situation because of the impending investigation, he did say the department would make sure justice is served.

"At this point, without getting into it too far, we do anticipate some terminations," said the Sheriff gravely.

Sheriff McCann says O'Neil was charged with disorderly conduct, drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.