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June 27, 2022

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Clark County Jail probe: ‘Uses of force were possibly excessive’

Corrections deputy placed on administrative leave

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

A criminal investigation has been completed into an Aug. 13 use-of-force incident by corrections deputies against an inmate at the Clark County Jail, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday.

The investigation, which was conducted by Pierce County prosecutors, will be reviewed by the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The incident is also being investigated internally, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

At about 6:30 a.m. on a Friday, deputies attempted to search the cell of an inmate, who was being held in the maximum-security area of the jail, and retrieve food trays, according to the news release.

Corrections Deputy Robert Hanks used force to detain the inmate, who was in handcuffs, while other corrections deputies searched his cell. Hanks and the other deputies also used force to remove the handcuffs, the news release said.

The sheriff’s office did not identify the inmate or say whether he was injured during the incident.

A sheriff’s sergeant was subsequently disciplined for failing to review video footage of the incident, which is procedure, the agency said.

“In the process of this review, the commander determined the sergeant had not viewed the video as required, and upon the commander’s viewing of the video, it was believed the uses of force were possibly excessive, and in the first instance at least, potentially criminal,” the news release states.

Sheriff Chuck Atkins placed Hanks on administrative leave and notified the involved deputies of the pending criminal and internal investigations. Those deputies were not identified in the news release.

“Upon being notified of this incident, I viewed the video and was very troubled by what I observed,” Atkins said in the news release. “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.”

Atkins said he received a copy of Pierce County’s investigation Thursday and will begin the internal investigation while local prosecutors review the criminal investigation.

“I am committed to transparency of how my office handles the internal affairs investigation, and what if any disciplinary action that may follow — once that investigation is completed,” Atkins said in the news release.

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