GREENFIELD — A Hancock County jail officer was fired Wednesday after he was caught on camera punching an inmate who had refused to go back to his cell, his superiors said.
Sheriff Mike Shepherd said red flags went up for a supervisor who reviewed video footage of jailer Sam McDaniel striking a 22-year-old male inmate.
McDaniel, who joined the department in 2008, is seen in the video hitting the inmate in the side of the head when the inmate becomes uncooperative, Shepherd said, adding that the prisoner was not physically resisting the jailer.
The department has not released the video, citing an ongoing internal investigation. The incident happened in recent days.
“We’re obviously going to hold all of our officers accountable for their actions,” Shepherd said. “They can’t mishandle the inmates. He was a passive resister at the time. He wasn’t flailing, throwing his arms around.”
McDaniel was fired Wednesday afternoon.
The department has a use-of-force policy in place to guide jailers on when it’s appropriate to physically intervene when an inmate is not cooperating or threatening to harm others or themselves.
An officer should never progress higher on the use-of-force continuum than necessary to subdue an inmate, Shepherd said.
“We basically just should react to what they are doing, … but you don’t want to go excessive,” he said. “It was pretty clear that (McDaniel) intended to do what he did. It was excessive force used on the inmate, and that obviously can’t be tolerated. You can’t just hit somebody in a place that’s going to cause some serious bodily injury.”
The inmate, who was struck in the ear, complained of pain after the incident but is not believed to have been seriously injured, Shepherd said.
The inmate had been jailed earlier this week on drug charges.
Shepherd said once the internal investigation is complete, detectives will file paperwork with the Hancock County prosecutor’s office for review.