Crime

Former jail guard charged with beating inmate. He’s not the only one under investigation

Manatee deputy fired after investigation into excessive force on jail inmate

Manatee County Sheriff’s corrections deputy Tyler LeMond, 21, was fired after an internal investigation found his "escalation of force was unwarranted and unreasonable," against an inmate.
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Manatee County Sheriff’s corrections deputy Tyler LeMond, 21, was fired after an internal investigation found his "escalation of force was unwarranted and unreasonable," against an inmate.

A former Manatee County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputy has been charged with assaulting and beating an inmate at the jail. In a separate incident, a second former deputy could face charges he kicked a restrained inmate in the face.

Both incidents happened just over a month apart in the medical unit at the jail.

Tyler Lemond, 21, was fired on April 24 after an internal affairs investigation found he used excessive use of force against an inmate. Eight days before he was fired, the sheriff’s office sent the case to the State Attorney’s Office with a recommendation that Lemond be charged with misdemeanor battery.

LeMond has not been arrested. He was served a summons on June 14, ordering him to appear in court Tuesday morning for an arraignment.

A call to LeMond’s attorney for comment was not returned.

The sheriff’s office said LeMond assaulted and beat an inmate during incident that was captured by security cameras at the jail.

LeMond claimed that Jorge Ixcoy Ajanel grabbed his arm and tried to pull LeMond toward him when the deputy opened his cell. Once inside the cell, LeMond claimed that he was trying to secure Ajanel so that he could put him in handcuffs and shackles, but that Ajanel resisted and tried grabbing him again.

The video footage from a camera inside the cell shows LeMond coming in and immediately shoving Ajanel to the ground. In the 42 seconds that follow, LeMond knees Ajanel eight times, punches him and stomps on him.

Ajanel, who was in a padded cell in the medical unit detoxing and was in jail on non-violent charges, never showed any signs of aggression.

Ajanel never filed a complaint, but the sheriff’s office launched its internal investigation after LeMond’s supervisors watched video of the incident.

Veteran deputy resigns

Stemming from a second incident, deputy Daniel Bower resigned on May 10 when internal affairs investigators concluded he engaged in unlawful conduct and conduct unbecoming a deputy. Before he resigned, Bower, a deputy since January 2006, was facing termination.

The sheriff’s office recommended prosecutors charge Bower with battery. The state attorney has not yet decided whether to prosecute Bower.

Sheriff Rick Wells said the LeMond and Bower were trained not to treat inmates the way they did.

“These men are trained. They have been through the academy. They know what’s expected. Unfortunately, they let their emotions get in the way,” Wells said. “We can’t do that.”

According to an internal affairs report, Bower didn’t deny his wrongdoing.

“He could not, nor did he attempt to justify or defend the excess force he used against the inmate,” a professional standards sergeant wrote in the report. “To the contrary, he was apologetic in the fact he did not control his own actions, and his lack of control led to the use of unnecessary and excessive force.”

At about 6 p.m. on April 20, an inmate, Frederick Chinwuba, became disruptive and was “banging, kicking and violently striking” the door of his cell in the medical unit at the Manatee County jail, according to sheriff’s office reports. Deputies tried to talk him down, but he continued to “scream obscenities, displaying an aggressive posture and spitting water at deputies who were attempting to talk to him.”

A sergeant assembled a team of deputies to remove Chinwuba from his cell and put him in a restraint chair. When the deputies went into his cell, Chinwuba resisted, grabbing the back of Bower’s head and scratching him during the struggle, according to the report.

After Bower handcuffed Chinwuba, Bower went to stand up and kicked Chinwuba in the mouth, according to reports.

“It is clear from sworn testimony that after the restraints were in place, Deputy Bower freely chose to exploit his advantage when he delivered a kick to the face of Inmate Chinwuba,” the professional standards sergeant wrote.

During his interview, Bower described the kick as a “knee jerk reaction,” a “stupid move and a stupid reaction,” according to a transcript of his interview.

“I don’t know why I did it, honestly,” Bower said. “I mean anger, adrenaline, stupidness, irresponsibility. ... I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t. I will never do it again.”

Bower, a defensive tactics instructor, has taught recruits about use of force at the Corrections Academy, and knew better the “acceptable use of force techniques when encountering a resisting inmate, and understands the importance of de-escalating after restraints are applied,” according to the report.

According to his personnel file, Bower had also taught the cell extraction course for the academy.

Chinwuba was at the jail after being arrested on an assault charge. The case has since been dropped.

Chinwuba is charged with resisting arrest with violence because of the incident at the jail, and the sheriff’s office has listed Bower as the victim, according to court records. At his attorney’s request, the court has ordered that Chinwuba be evaluated for mental competency.

Bower had experience with working inmates suffering from mental illnesses, having worked for six years in a juvenile mental health corrections facility before coming to working at the sheriff’s office.

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