Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins ‘troubled’ by what he saw in videos
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has released three videos that show different angles of an incident from August of 2021 between corrections deputies and an inmate, an incident that has led to an internal affairs investigation.
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The sheriff’s office confirmed last week that an investigation is ongoing into the possibility that excessive force was used.
On Aug. 13, 2021, corrections deputies entered a cell of an inmate for a search and to retrieve food trays. The inmate was in the maximum-security unit due to his history of violence, including previous assaults on corrections deputies.
During the search, Corrections Deputy Robert Hanks used force to restrain the handcuffed inmate while others conducted the search. Hanks and other deputies subsequently used force while removing the inmate’s handcuffs.
The videos released Friday morning show the deputies entering the cell, and later, using a tether to pull the inmate. Two of the videos detail the incident from outside of the cell. One video shows the incident from inside the cell.
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Due to policy and procedure violations, the corrections sergeant overseeing the review of force was subsequently disciplined. Hanks was placed on administrative leave. Hanks and the other corrections deputies who were present during the incident were notified of pending criminal and internal affairs investigations.
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins referred the matter for a criminal investigation. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department agreed to conduct that investigation.
“I viewed the video and was very troubled by what I observed,” Atkins said via statement last week. “I know the importance of not jumping to conclusions or prejudging an incident based upon video alone. I did, however, order that the matter be immediately referred to an outside agency for a criminal investigation.”
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Atkins said he has received a copy of that investigation after it was delivered to the office of Tony Golik, prosecuting attorney for Clark County.
The sheriff’s office is continuing with its own investigation while Golik considers the actions of the prosecutor’s office.
Atkins said he is committed to transparency on how his office handles the investigation and what, if any, disciplinary action that might follow. But he will wait to address those issues until after the investigation is completed.
There is no audio from the videos that were released Friday. The faces of the inmate and the deputies have been hidden.
The internal investigation, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office, will determine if this is the proper use of the tether and other techniques used.
The sheriff’s office is not prepared to make a formal statement, opting to wait until the end of the investigation.
As a former Commander of the Clark County Jail, I can say there is no reason to use force on a handcuffed inmate. It’s also interesting to have the Sergeant overseeing this incident “disciplined” and not say what the discipline received was. The Supervisor in my opinion should be investigated as well. Instead, he or she receives a slap on the hand.
Lack of transparency leads to a lack of CNN public trust. If there wasn’t cameras, this inmate could have been seriously injured with no accountability. I’m very familiar with the jail Commanders and their history as officers and Sergeants and it’s very similar. I’m pretty sure the Commander disciplined the Sergeant to prevent them from being investigated.
Officers are to use “reasonable” force when dealing with inmates and any force used on a cuffed inmate is unreasonable unless it is to prevent them from hurting themselves.