Tenn. deputies resign after inmate pepper-sprayed

Records indicate inmate was resisting officers and even spitting at them

By Jim Balloch
News Sentinel

MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. — A Monroe County jail inmate, while restrained in a chair, was pepper-sprayed in the face by two sheriff's deputies last week, the News Sentinel has learned. The incident led to Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens' decision to accept the officers' resignations.

On Friday, Bivens issued a vaguely worded news release, stating that unspecified officers had resigned over an "event" involving the "possibility of improper procedural issues" over the "handling of an inmate in custody."

Neither Bivens nor his designated public information officer returned repeated phone calls seeking more information.

The incident involved two deputies who peppersprayed inmate Randy Carter, according to 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Bebb.

Bebb said Carter has been arrested more than 70 times, mostly on offenses involving alcohol. He has a reputation for regularly resisting arrest and fighting with officers, he said.

Bebb said that the names of the two officers are still not available.

Records of the incident were presented to Bebb for review. He said Tuesday he had decided there will be no criminal charges filed against the officers.

"They made a bad decision, did the wrong thing, and they have resigned," Bebb said. "I am not charging them with a crime. They may be subject to a civil lawsuit."

Bebb said records indicate Carter was resisting officers and even spitting at them, but was nevertheless already restrained in a chair "when he was pepper-sprayed full in the face."

Here is the full text released last week by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office: "On Wednesday morning, January 18, 2012, the Sheriff's Office/Staff Administration of Monroe County received information from jail staff of an event in the jail the previous evening, January 17, 2012. This information regarded the possibility of improper procedural issues on the part of other employees of the sheriff's office in their handling of an inmate in custody at the jail.

"Jail staff reviewed the information and investigated the event. The information was then forwarded to Sheriff Bivens and further reviewed by the Sheriff and staff.

"After review of the event and meeting with the employees in question this date, Friday January 20, 2012, the Sheriff has accepted the resignation of the employees."

Copyright 2012 News Sentinel

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