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News / Clark County News

Videos released in use-of-force incident at Clark County Jail

Corrections Deputy Robert Hanks is on administrative leave; other deputies have been notified of pending criminal, internal investigations

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: March 18, 2022, 11:41am

Video from inside the Clark County Jail of an Aug. 13 use-of-force incident that is under criminal review shows correction deputies pinning, tackling and dragging a handcuffed inmate while trying to search and clean his cell.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office released three videos Friday with the faces of five deputies, the inmate and portions of the jail blacked out. None of the videos have audio.

The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is reviewing a criminal investigation completed by the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office into the use of force by corrections Deputy Robert Hanks, according to a news release. The sheriff’s office is also conducting an internal investigation.

The first video, time-stamped beginning at 6:30 a.m., shows five deputies approaching a cell in the maximum security unit and handcuffing an inmate through the slot in the door. Once deputies open the door, some begin carrying food trays and other trash out to a garbage bin.

A second video shows another angle of deputies later using a tether to drag the man toward the door and pull his hands through the slot to remove the handcuffs.

A third video shows inside of the cell when the man, who appears to be a person of color, initially complies by putting his hands through the opening in the door to be handcuffed.

A deputy enters the cell and can be seen talking and gesturing to the man before another deputy rushes in, pushes the inmate by the chest into a bunk bed and then pins him in the corner of the cell. The deputy rips off the man’s head covering and holds him in the corner while others begin collecting food trays.

About 30 seconds later, the deputy twists the man’s arms higher behind his back and hoists him against the bed, before taking him to the ground.

Two other deputies can be seen piling on top of the man and holding his legs down. A fourth deputy brings in a tether that they appear to attach to the man’s wrists. The deputies leave the room and drag the man by his handcuffed wrists toward the slot in the door. Once his arms are pulled through the hole to his elbows, deputies uncuff him.

The inmate can later be seen walking around his cell, checking his wrists and knees, before eating his breakfast.

The sheriff’s office said Friday that the internal investigation will determine whether the deputies’ techniques, including using the tether, was proper.

A sheriff’s sergeant was subsequently disciplined for failing to review video footage of the incident, which is procedure, the sheriff’s office 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 have not been identified.

“Sheriff Atkins is requesting patience as we continue through the internal investigation process,” a Friday news release states. “It is vital we review and consider all the variables for the integrity of the investigation and not prejudge this incident based solely on the video.”

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