A 55-year-old Black man is suing several correctional officers from the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office after he was assaulted while in jail.
The man, Jerry Minor, is bringing the federal lawsuit with the help of his attorney Roderick Van Daniel. According to the suit, Minor was assaulted in May three times in less than an hour by three different officers. The lawsuit names three officers, Devin Whitehead, Nicholas Roach, and Christopher Hart.
Hart initially pepper sprayed Minor for knocking on the window of the Detox cell asking to make a telephone call, the suit alleges. After this, Minor was forced to get in a shower to wash off the pepper spray from his eyes and body. In doing so Minor removed his underwear by throwing them into the hall but onto the head of Roach, who then rushed to the shower and assaulted Minor along with Whitehead the suit claims.
According to the testimony of another officer, Whitehead specifically hit and kicked Minor in the head several times. Then, after Minor was leaving the shower area, Whitehead again punched the 55-year-old man multiple times, threw Minor into a wall and slammed him into the ground with the help of other correctional guards, the suit alleges.
“These officers were not satisfied with violating Mr. Minor’s civil rights,” Van Daniel said. “They wanted to show their dominance over an elderly inmate who just wanted to make a phone call which is his constitutional right. Officer Whitehead kicked Mr. Minor in the head several times and punch him. This is inhuman. This has to stop. It is causing the citizens of our community not to believe in our Criminal System. Criminal Reform has been a major issue for years and it is continuing in 2023. It is time for a change.”
Whitehead was terminated for excessive force by Sheriff Joe Hamilton, but Roach and Hart remain employed. Roach was suspended and told to complete de-escalation training, Hamilton said.
Minor is seeking relief for violations of state law for assault and battery, violations of his Fourth Amendment rights and deprivation of liberty for denying him access to make a telephone call.