Scott County deputies suspended following ‘unprofessional’ video
Two Scott County deputies are suspended after a video captured what the sheriff calls unprofessional behavior.
SCOTT CO., Tenn. (WVLT) - Two Scott County Sheriff’s Office deputies were suspended Monday after a video captured them handling an incident in an unprofessional manner, Sheriff Ronnie Phillips said. A third deputy is also part of an internal investigation, according to sheriff’s office officials.
In a video shared multiple times with WVLT News over the weekend, what appears to be law enforcement officials are captured calling a disabled woman “satanic” and “pathetic.” It’s unclear if that video is the same video that prompted Phillips to suspend two of his deputies on Monday. However, the woman in the video is pictured in an incident report that Scott County deputies filed on June 26.
That incident report details the actions of the woman in question, but not the deputies. According to the report, the deputies were sent to the Scott County Finance Building to ask the woman to move from the front steps where she was sitting with a few of her belongings. While on scene, the woman reportedly caused a disturbance by arguing with the deputies and pouring a six pack of soda on the ground and on herself.
According to the report, the woman also “defecated all over the walkway and front steps” of the building.
The video showed the woman, who appeared disabled and in distress, arguing with deputies about the feces on the steps. The woman said she “couldn’t help that” and asked one of the men if he had “ever had an accident,” to which he responded, “no, maybe when I was a kid.”
Shortly after, one of the deputies became upset with the woman, calling her “satanic” because of her behavior. “It’s a sin. It’s a sin. It’s a sin,” the man said at one point. The argument then escalated when the deputy told the woman “your lord is Satan” and “no one in this county cares what you have to say.”
The video ended by zooming in on the woman on the steps while one of the men called the woman “pathetic.”
In a statement, Sheriff Ronnie Phillips said that he is personally investigating three deputies connected to the incident, and that two were suspended.
“This afternoon I was made aware of a video that is currently circulating through the county which involves 3 deputies from my office,” Phillips said. “Upon learning about the video this afternoon, I’ve spent time conducting an in-depth internal investigation into the incident.”
Phillips went on to apologize about the incident, saying “Foremost, I personally apologize for the unprofessional manner in which this incident was handled. I want to assure each of you that immediate corrective action has been taken by me personally.”
Phillips also released a follow-up statement, announcing that the office will add new training for deputies aimed at teaching them more about “the handling of specific persons, incidents and situations.” That training will involve ethical communication, de-escalation tactics and managing mentally ill people, he said.
“It is imperative that in our line of work we use proper caution when dealing with any person, during any situation. Improving our ethical standards and communication, along with, managing the high rate of arrestees and people we deal with that have diminished mental capacity has to be one of our foremost goals and making every attempt to mitigate the escalation when dealing with the criminally charged person with diminished mental capacity. It’s our hope that by providing our employees additional and new training that we can better serve this population and better educate our public servants on what to look for and how to best respond.”
At this time, the office has not identified the deputies involved. WVLT News reached out to Captain Aaron Evans for that information but he said that the office would not identify the deputies until the investigation is over.
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