Bunnell, FL – A Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) detention deputy has resigned amid allegations that he used excessive force during an altercation with an inmate who threw a walker at him (video below).
The incident occurred at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility in April, KITV reported.
Security footage showed FCSO Detention Deputy Jarred Tazewell, 34, as he was retrieving 54-year-old Mark Duncanson from a confinement cell, according to Flagler Live.
The detention deputy later told investigators that, as he was conversing with Duncanson, the inmate told him about a dream he had, Flagler Live reported.
“I want to go to my new world and I’ll take whoever I can with me,” he said, according to Deputy Tazewell. “I’ll take you with me.”
Duncanson suddenly walked out and threw his walker at the deputy, hitting him in the chest, the video showed.
The startled deputy immediately shoved his attacker away with his left hand, then nearly immediately punched him in the face with his right fist.
The blow knocked the suspect backwards onto the floor of the cell.
Deputy Tazewell later wrote in his report that Duncanson had a pen in his hand at the time of the attack, and that struck the inmate in self-defense, Flagler Live reported.
Investigators confirmed that the inmate had a pen in his possession.
Deputy Tazewell, a three-year veteran of the FCSO, resigned from his position on Sept. 24 amid an internal investigation into his use of force during the altercation, Flagler Live reported.
FCSO Detective Rich Petkovsek, who conducted the criminal investigation, determined that there was not probable cause to charge Deputy Tazewell with a crime.
“Deputy Tazewell’s response was an immediate single reaction to a felony battery being committed against himself,” Det. Petkovsek wrote, according to Flagler Live. “After Deputy Tazewell struck inmate Duncanson, he immediately went to a de-escalation attempt in restraining inmate Duncanson on the ground until additional Deputies could arrive. Once relieved, Deputy Tazewell removed himself from the situation so he could emotionally calm down.”
The only person who deserved to be charged with felony battery, according to the detective, was Duncanson.
Although the State Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against the deputy, the FCSO ultimately concluded that Deputy Tazewell “violated agency policies by using excessive force,” the department said in a statement, according to Flagler Live.
“As the [internal] investigation was being completed, Tazewell through his [union] representative resigned his position with the Sheriff’s Office,” the statement read. “While discipline could not be issued because of this resignation, FCSO will be sending the case to the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) for review. CJSTC has the authority to issue discipline up to revoking Tazewell’s Florida Correctional Officer certification.”
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said that investigators determined Duncanson’s behavior did not warrant the type or level of force Deputy Tazewell used, and that the department likely would have terminated his employment had he not already resigned, Flagler Live reported.
“Often, inmates will ‘bait’ Detention Deputies and I expect Deputies to keep their cool and not react inappropriately,” Sheriff Staly added, noting that detention deputies’ use of “defensive tactics” has decreased over 38 percent since he took office.
“Tazewell’s action is not a reflection of the many men and women that serve professionally at the jail keeping us safe from some of the worst people in society,” the sheriff said.
Duncanson was initially arrested in January on a trespassing charge, but picked up a new felony offense at the jail for obstructing or destroying a fire sprinkler, Flagler Live reported.
In March, a physician noted that Duncanson had a history of mental illness, including schizophrenia, and that he was prescribed multiple psychotropic medications.
“He has been observed talking to himself in his cell and spreading his feces on the cell walls,” the physician’s report read.
Later that month, a judge determined that Duncanson was incompetent to stand trial, and committed him to a psychiatric hospital for treatment.
Prosecutors declined to pursue battery charges against Duncanson for the attack on the now-former deputy since he had already been declared mentally incompetent, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.
A week after the attack on Deputy Tazewell, Duncanson was transferred to the psychiatric hospital, Flagler Live reported.
He remained there until Aug. 29, when he was returned to the detention facility.
A judge subsequently determined that he was competent to proceed to trial.
You can watch security footage of the detention deputy’s altercation with Duncanson in the video below: