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Hall fires jailer accused in Dec. 30 incident
Man accused of striking handcuffed inmate
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A Hall County jailer was fired Monday for striking a handcuffed inmate “without due cause,” the Hall County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release.

The incident involving David Pirkle took place inside the jail on Dec. 30.

“While disappointed by Pirkle’s actions, it was reassuring that the other jailers present brought the misconduct to their supervisor’s attention for an investigation,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Kiley Sargent said in the release.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also has been contacted to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

Sargent deferred questions about the incident to the GBI.

“As the sheriff indicated, the GBI’s investigation is ongoing,” spokesman John Bankhead said.

Pirkle, who was hired in August 2011, had been on paid administrative leave during an internal investigation.

Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks, another sheriff’s spokesman, said last week, when the sheriff’s office first released details about the incident, that suspension with pay is customary while an incident is still under investigation and no wrongdoing has been confirmed.

Sheriff Gerald Couch, who took office Jan. 1, said, “As law enforcement personnel, we must conduct ourselves in a professional manner and use only that force which is necessary to enforce the laws of Georgia.

“Many fine men and women work at our jail and those same dedicated people helped quickly resolve this disappointing incident by reporting it to their supervisors,” he said. “We should not let the dishonorable acts of one individual color all our employees in the same light.”

As sheriff, Couch said, “I expect my employees to be professional and act according to law. If they deviate from that course, I will take appropriate measures such as in this case.”

The incident follows closely on the heels of an incident involving another Hall County ex-jailer, Dustin Charlton.

He was charged two weeks ago with one count of simple battery, a misdemeanor, and one count of violation of oath of office in a Sept. 8 incident in which he was accused of using excessive force on an inmate.

Officials said Charlton punched an unruly inmate on the head after the inmate was under control and in handcuffs.

The GBI investigated that case at the sheriff’s office’s request, though the sheriff’s office did its own internal investigation before firing Charlton on Sept. 12, citing violations of several policies and procedures, including unbecoming conduct and use of force.

Charlton is free on $15,000 bail.

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