Saturday, February 16, 2008

Black Hillsborough County Deputy Charlette Marshall-Jones Arrested In Tampa, Florida For Dumping Brian Sterner Out Of Wheelchair

Update July 2nd, 2008: Charlette Marshall-Jones will not be prosecuted for this crime, gets "community service". See newer post HERE.

A Hillsborough County (Florida) detention deputy who dumped a quadraplegic man from his wheelchair was arrested February 16th, 2008 on a charge of abuse of a disabled person, a third-degree felony carrying a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. Full story published in the Tampa Tribune. Additional story aired by WFOR Channel 4 in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale

Charlette Marshall-Jones (pictured above left), 44, turned herself in at Orient Road Jail at 5 A.M., dressed in black and wearing a cowboy hat. She was booked, processed and released at 6:18 A.M. on $3,500 bail, Hillsborough sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. A warrant for her arrest had been announced Friday night by Sheriff David Gee.

And it looks like that Marshall-Jones, a veteran of 22 years service, has hired herself a high-powered mouthpiece, Tampa criminal defense lawyer Norman Cannella Sr. A former prosecutor, Cannella has handled a number of high-profile cases. He has represented former Tampa police Chief Bennie Holder on a sexual harassment complaint and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem on an animal cruelty charge. He also represented controversial real estate speculator Don Connolly.

Some residents in her neighborhood were unaware of the incident that has captured nationwide attention. Carmella DeJesus, her next-door neighbor, said she was shocked by the news. "I recognized her in the video and I couldn't believe it," DeJesus said. "To me, she's very normal, very sweet. She works in her yard with her partner, has her family over; she's a very nice woman". [Ed. Note: Her "partner"? That means she could be a lesbian. Many lesbians hate men, and this could have affected her attitude towards Sterner]

On January 29th, Brian Sterner, 32, had been arrested on a warrant for fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, stemming from a traffic violation, and was being processed. Marshall-Jones tried to make him stand even though he couldn't and that he was working hard to control his emotions and his actions throughout the incident. Then, as shown by video, Marshall-Jones raised the back of a wheelchair, sending Brian Sterner tumbling to the floor. He remained on the floor as Marshall-Jones searched him. No other deputies in the room lifted a finger to help Sterner. As a result, Marshall-Jones and two of her supervisors have been suspended, and another has been put on unpaid leave, pending the outcome of an investigation. The supervisors have been identified as Sergeant Gary Hinson, Corporal Decondra Williams, and Corporal Steven Dickie.

Here is the YouTube video. Note that there is no sound, so one cannot determine whether or not Sterner may have said anything inflammatory (not that it would justify the way he was treated):

And this may not be the first time Marshall-Jones has abused a detainee. Sterner and his attorney, John Trevena, have said there is a second incident of abuse involving him at the jail that involved Marshall-Jones and another person. They would not elaborate on the incident, which occurred while Sterner was being fingerprinted and wasn't caught on camera. Sterner gave a statement at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office late Friday afternoon (February 15th), and Trevena said Gee directly apologized to him. However, WFOR reports that two professionals who worked with Marshall-Jones claim they never witnessed any unprofessional conduct from her.

But the furor is mounting. According to a February 14th Tampa Tribune story, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is asking his Office of Civil Rights to immediately review the video. "I have viewed the video of Mr. Sterner's treatment and I am appalled by the situation which so clearly unfolded in these images," McCollum said in a written statement.

"Because this deals with a disability issue, we think it's worth reviewing as a civil rights matter," said Joe Jacquot, deputy attorney general. "But I'm not sure what we might find or how long this will take." Jacquot is concerned that this incident may not be a fluke.

The attorney general's office has communicated with Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and has been assured of his full support and cooperation, McCollum says. A sheriff's detective has been assigned to conduct a criminal investigation of the case, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter.

In addition, J. Willie David III, president of the Florida Civil Rights Association, called on U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to order an immediate investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. "Forcing any quadriplegic from a wheelchair is certainly inhumane and inexcusable," David said.

And on Wednesday, February 13th, Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he found the incident "terribly disturbing" and wondered whether there it might be a civil rights issue. "We're looking into it," he said.

An intersting story aired by WTSP Channel 10 in Tampa indicates that Brian Sterner might be hard to get along with, though. Angela Moore, one of his neighbors, says that although it is horrible what the cops did to him, that he is "terrifying" their neighborhood. She claims that things became increasingly worse; and that the police have been called here “a million times.” Records show deputies have been called to his home 12 times in the last year and several neighbors have called asking for help as well. According to Moore, “if he does something today and you call the police, tomorrow he does something worse.”

Moore says the list of incidents he is involved in include abusive language, throwing garbage on lawns and attempting to run her over. Sterner told WTSP that he suffered severe depression when he lost his job in October. But Moore says that whatever it is, the neighborhood needs help.

And it's not just Angela Moore. Several other people in this neighborhood have contacted us and said they had problems with Sterner about the same time, when he lost his job in October, but they also say they're too afraid to talk about it on camera. We also talked to several former quad rugby teammates who say Sterner went through a drastic personality change last year.

And October was the same time that Sterner was first arrested. Watch Marshall-Jones' high-powered attorney try to use this against Sterner to claim he provoked the deputy.

Commentary: Normally, politicians tend to jump through hoops like this only if it is a white on non-white crime. Black-on-white crimes tend to be comparatively underplayed. So this triggers one question - is the system really being fair and jumping through hoops for a black-on-white crime, or is it more because the victim is disabled?

Discussion of this issue on Stormfront raised another interesting question: Why are there so many black deputies in the office? Is is because whites don't want the jobs, or are whites being frozen out through affirmative action? Discussion thread also on the Vanguard News Network Forum.

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