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2 Hall jailers punished after December uprising
Officer videotaped hitting inmate; commander 'tapped' others in head with his foot
Officer Dustin Charlton, left, and Capt. Mark Bandy

The Hall County Sheriff's Office suspended the Hall County Jail commander and an officer at the jail earlier this year after a Dec. 22 uprising.

Officer Dustin Charlton was suspended for five days for conduct unbecoming an officer and unnecessary use of force. Capt. Mark Bandy was suspended for one day for unbecoming conduct, The Times has learned as part of an open records request. The event involved eight inmates at the detention center on Barber Road.

Charlton was cited for hitting an inmate in the face, and Bandy was disciplined for "tapping" each of the inmates in the head with his foot, states the sheriff's office internal affairs report.

Their actions were caught on jail video cameras that monitor different areas in the facility.

There was a mix-up, however, on the suspension itself. Charlton ended up working three off-days during the same pay period when he was suspended for the five days in March, "negating three days of the suspension," Sheriff's Office Col. Jeff Strickland said.

Strickland said federal law required that he be paid for all time worked, but that schedule should have never played out. He said the issue was brought to his attention when the open records request was filed.

"Since then, Charlton has taken three days of suspension, so he has lost five days' pay now," he said.

Also, Bandy worked an extra day the week before the week he took his one-day suspension, which would have given him two weeks' full pay.

"But we immediately caught that and that was fixed," Strickland said. "So, at the time of the suspension, he lost his eight hours."

Overall, "I was disappointed we had the issues about the time, but we took measures to correct that," Strickland said. "And I understand that everybody involved realizes that won't happen again."

"It was an educational process for me," Bandy said of the pay issue. "I've been jail commander for 2 1/2 years and I've never had to discipline anybody for five days."

The incident began when an unruly inmate, Devonta Wise, was locked down for his conduct, the internal affairs report states.

His brother, Mautious Wise, was in the same cell block and yelled at officers when he saw what was happening with his brother. He also was "kicking his door in protest."

Charlton went to Mautious Wise's cell and noticed that another inmate, Russell Green, "was not supposed to be in the cell with Wise."

He asked Green to leave the cell, which Green refused to do. Green ended up running by Charlton as Wise "got into a physical altercation with Charlton," the report states.

"As a result of the altercation ... Officer Charlton's mouth was busted and bleeding," the report states. "After Mautious Wise was handcuffed and secured, Officer Charlton struck Wise with his fist on or about Wise's face."

Later, Bandy was told what was happening, "arriving at the time the inmates were all secured and on the floor," the report states. "Capt. Bandy went by each inmate and tapped each on their heads with his foot."

He told internal affairs that "this (action) was to get their attention and let them know we do not tolerate this type of behavior in the Hall County jail."

"I think our officers, with the exception of Officer Charlton losing his cool, did a good job. They followed procedure, and there were no injuries to the inmates or officers, other than minor ones," Strickland said.

"The main you've got to remember is that's a jail with 1,026 inmates and none of them wants to be in there. ... Occasionally, they get unruly and we have to take action.

"We have not had any incidents since December of this nature, and I think moving forward, our officers are going to take this as a learning process," Strickland said. "I don't think we'll have any other issues of this nature."

Charlton, who has worked with the department for about a year, couldn't be reached for comment.

Bandy, in reflecting on the incident, said he wishes now that he had "assessed the situation a little bit better."

"I would have gotten more information before I went in there (with the inmates) and probably would have not reacted like that," he said.

In the incident, only Mautious Wise faced criminal charges of riot and felony obstruction.

"Everybody else was charged in-house and that's often times what we do," Strickland said. "They are already in jail."

As to why the sheriff's office didn't publicly disclose the incident when it happened, he said "There were no criminal allegations, so therefore, we handled it as a matter of routine business."