Originally created 02/16/99

Charges against jailers unfounded



AIKEN -- A second Aiken County resident has leveled assault charges against jailers at the detention center, saying two employees busted his lip Saturday.

And for the second time, city investigators have stamped the case "unfounded."

Timothy O'Neal, 28, of the 500 block of Sundy Drive in Aiken, told Aiken public safety officers over the weekend that two male jailers pushed his face into the wall.

The complaint came six days after Tammy Barnes, also of Aiken, accused a jailer of slamming her into a wall and bruising her body by handcuffing her hands and feet together. She later dropped the charges.

Complaints against jail employees are rare, but they are investigated, ADPS Capt. Tom Galardi said.

In Mr. O'Neal's case, investigators said a booking sheet revealed he had the busted lip when he came into the Aiken County Detention Center.

Mr. O'Neal was arrested Saturday night and charged with assaulting sheriff's Lt. Chuck Cain.

The suspect was released Sunday and immediately went to city police to make the assault claims.

Capt. Dan Edwins, a longtime jailer at the detention center, said jail officials document all injuries when a suspect is brought in.

"It's done also to make sure he's in a condition where he doesn't need any further medical treatment by a medical facility," Capt. Edwins said.

Some inmates may resist arrest, causing minor bruising as they are restrained, Capt. Edwins said. But jailers carry no weapons and use only the amount of force necessary to keep the situation under control, he said.

But inmates have the right to file a complaint with whomever they want, the captain said. Sometimes, jail officials even will make the call to city police once an inmate complains.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the solicitor's office also can investigate such charges.

And the jail has specific grievance procedures to document an inmate's detainment from beginning to end, Capt. Edwins said.

Greg Rickabaugh covers police for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.