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    Deputy punished in shoving case

    A jailer is suspended for five days for using inappropriate force to put an inmate into a cell.

    By CHRIS TISCH
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 16, 2002


    LARGO -- Jail Deputy Donovan Brown stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 342 pounds. Jessie Sayers is 5-9 and 160.

    The two met Oct. 27 after Sayers was arrested for disorderly conduct. As he was being booked into the Pinellas County Jail, Sayers wadded up his arrest papers and tossed them on the floor.

    A jail deputy told him to pick up the papers. Sayers swore at the deputy and told him to pick them up himself.

    Brown moved to put Sayers, who was loud and verbally abusive, into a holding cell. Sayers resisted, planting his feet on the floor and refusing to move.

    So Brown shoved him. He pushed Sayers hard enough that he went flying into the cell. He hit the floor and scraped his hands.

    Surveillance cameras in that part of the jail captured the incident on video.

    Brown didn't immediately report the use of force, which he is required to do. He also didn't summon a nurse to look at Sayers, another violation. But Sayers pounded on his cell, attracting the attention of the shift commander.

    Ten minutes later, Sayers told Sgt. Richard Leach that Brown had treated him unfairly. When jail officials reviewed the video, they concluded that Brown had used inappropriate force in dealing with Sayers.

    Brown was suspended for five days without pay for the incident. An administrative review board recommended the suspension, which was approved by Sheriff Everett Rice.

    Brown, who has worked for the Sheriff's Office for just over two years, could have been fired. But he has no previous incidents on his record and was given the lowest punishment possible.

    When interviewed by internal affairs investigators, Brown said he used appropriate force with Sayers.

    "I use whatever force is necessary -- no more, no less," he said. "I wasn't in any way, shape or form trying to hurt the man.

    "I believe that the force I used was the force that was necessary to place him into that cell," he added.

    But sheriff's officials disagreed.

    "The shove looked a little strong to me," Leach later told internal affairs investigators.

    Brown at one point told supervisors that Sayers had slipped and fallen.

    "It upsets me because I was lied to," detention Cpl. Richard Keyser later told internal affairs investigators after viewing the videotape. "I didn't see any slip and fall. I see him pushing an inmate in there."

    Sayers pleaded guilty to the disorderly conduct charge later that day and was given probation.

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