2 deputies are charged with attacking an inmate at a Memphis jail

Nov 14, 2023, 12:17 PM | Updated: 12:22 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Two Tennessee jail deputies were charged Tuesday with attacking a Memphis inmate who was injured but survived.

Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputies Odell Underwood and Reginald Wilkins have been indicted on charges of official misconduct, official oppression and assault with bodily harm, court records show.

Shelby County Jail inmate Damian Florez-Ramirez was injured in the May confrontation with Underwood and Wilkins, county district attorney Steve Mulroy said during a news conference.

The deputies attacked the handcuffed inmate as he was being taken to a medical facility in the jail, Mulroy said. Florez-Ramirez had attacked a deputy jailer earlier in the day and had been hit with a “chemical agent,” Mulroy said.

Florez-Ramirez suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, but details of his injuries were not immediately disclosed. Details of the attack on the inmate also were not disclosed.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said Underwood and Wilkins engaged in “troubling conduct” and they should be held accountable.

Bonner said during the news conference that the jailers have been relieved of duty without pay, but they have not been fired. Bonner said the jailers will also face departmental charges.

Online court records do not show if Underwood and Wilkins have lawyers to speak on their behalf about the charges. Florez-Ramirez remains jailed on charges including domestic assault and rape of a child. Court and jail records do not show lawyer information for Florez-Ramirez on those charges.

In September, nine Shelby County deputies were charged in the fatal beating of Gershun Freeman as he was having a psychotic episode at the same jail in October 2022. Video released in March shows Freeman was beaten by corrections deputies after he ran naked from his cell.

Two deputies were charged with second-degree murder, and seven others have been charged with aggravated assault resulting in death.

Six of the nine deputies pleaded not guilty at a recent hearing. Three others told a judge that they had not been able to hire lawyers and they did not enter a plea.

Bonner has defended the nine deputies charged in the Freeman beating, vowing to help raise money for their legal fees.

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2 deputies are charged with attacking an inmate at a Memphis jail