Four Fired Over Jail Beating - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro -- Heather Flanigan

Four Fired Over Jail Beating

April 7, 2004 -- Posted at 8:32 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- An internal investigation conducted by the Craighead County Sheriff's Department comes to a close today...The investigation resulted in the termination of four employees after an inmate alleged abuse while in custody.

Last week on K8 news we brought you the story of Terry O'Neil....a man battered and broken after being beaten while arrested, allegedly at the hands of the Craighead County Sheriff's Office and the Brookland Police Department.

"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 Terry O'Neil.

And it won't happen again. According to Sheriff Jack McCann, his internal investigation showed some of his officers and jailers got out of hand.

"When something like this happens, all we ask for is the truth, and the truth is sometimes painful, and it was painful in this case," said McCann in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Painful, because Sheriff McCann had to fire four employees. Those terminated today were Jody Miller, Josh Foster, David Gann and Matt Whitley.

"I told them the worst thing they could do is lie to me. They lied," said McCann.

All were fired for falsifying a report, insubordination and violating the county employment policy. Miller and Foster were also fired for use of excessive force against an inmate.... something that Sheriff McCann says should never have happened.

"This is way out of line, the jailers were wrong and I offer a public apology to Mr. O'Neil and the citizens of Craighead County because this was wrong and you can't make it right," said McCann.

McCann's investigation found that O'Neil was beaten and tazered after he arrived at the jail just before three a.m. on April 1, 2004.

Video surveillance showed that O'Neil was in the detox cell for approximately two minutes and while the cameras did not catch the abuse, that is when it began..

"The camera system we have is obsolete. The quality is always poor," said McCann, who hopes to have more surveillance in place soon.

And that surveillance should help keep incidents like this from happening again. But this isn't over yet... a criminal investigation of the Sheriff's Department is still underway by the Arkansas State Police.... and those involved in the beating could face felony charges.

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