Pepper Spray Video Raises Questions About Deputy Conduct

Pepper Spray Video Raises Questions About Deputy Conduct

CREATED Feb 4, 2014

by Nick Beres

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. - NewsChannel 5 obtained jail surveillance video showing a Rutherford County Sheriff's deputy pepper spraying an inmate strapped to a restraining chair.  The video was posted online and is raising questions about the deputy's conduct.

The inmate in the video, Demario Harris, was under arrest for disorderly conduct.

"I felt it was wrong. The wrong way of doing things," said Harris.

Harris was strapped to a restraining chair and outfitted with a spit mask at the Rutherford County jail.

As some point, Harris wiggled free from one of the leg restraints and the deputy used pepper spray to subdue him.

"We really do believe he followed policy," said Deputy Chief Virgil Gammon. 

Gammons understands how the video might raise questions, but he said it does not tell the whole story.

Gammon said Harris was drunk, combative, and restrained already when the police department first brought him to the jail. In the cell, Harris had managed to break partially free from the restraint on his leg and refused to cooperate with deputies.

"He was very hostile," said Gammon.

He said the deputy used his discretion to subdue Harris with the pepper spray after warning him several times to cooperate. Harris was later examined and cleared by a doctor.

Gammon said the deputy was given a verbal reprimand-- not for violating policy-- but he was spoken to about considering other potential options for such a situation such as calling other deputies in to help restrain Harris instead of using pepper spray.

Harris is considering legal action against the department.

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