Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jail Inmate Complains Marshall-Jones Abused Her

Tammy Lynn Mojica

By JOSH POLTILOVE of The Tampa Tribune, FL
Published: February 20, 2008

TAMPA - An internal affairs investigation is looking into a
Falkenburg Road Jail inmate's complaint that Charlette Marshall-
Jones, the detention deputy who dumped a quadriplegic man from his
wheelchair in January, also abused her last month.

"She snatched me by the back of my head and slammed me into the
wall," Tammy Lynn Mojica told the Tribune during a phone call today
from jail.

On Jan. 29, a video camera recorded Marshall-Jones raising the back
of a wheelchair, spilling quadriplegic Brian Sterner onto the floor.
Sterner, 32, of Riverview, was booked at the jail on a warrant
stemming from a traffic violation.

Marshall-Jones, 44, submitted her resignation Friday. She was
arrested Saturday on a charge of abuse of a disabled person. She
posted $3,500 bail and was released.

Mojica said Marshall-Jones abused her Jan. 10, when she was booked
into Orient Road Jail. Mojica is now in Falkenburg.

"Any time we have an allegation of excessive use of force, it's going
to be investigated," said Col. David Parrish, who runs Orient Road
Jail. "There are two deputies who are involved in the incident – from
my review of the report that was written."

Parrish would not discuss specifics and said video of Mojica being
booked would not be made available since it is part of an active

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said an internal affairs
investigation is ongoing, but she would not discuss the investigation
or the incident.

Marshall-Jones' mother, Alma Marshall, declined to comment. Marshall-
Jones' attorney, Norman Cannella, said he wasn't familiar with
Mojica's complaint.

"I haven't got the slightest idea of what you speak about, not the
slightest," he said. "I'm not going to bother to tell [Marshall-
Jones] anything about this since I don't have the slightest idea what
you're talking about."

The state attorney's office filed charges of cocaine possession,
possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug
paraphernalia against Mojica following her Jan. 10 arrest, state
attorney's spokeswoman Pam Bondi said.

A separate charge of introduction of contraband into a detention
facility was considered but was deemed "duplicitous and not necessary
to the prosecution of the case," Bondi said.

Separately, Mojica has the following charges pending against her:
grand theft third-degree, possession of drug paraphernalia and
driving with a suspended license, Bondi said.

Mojica, 34, of Wimauma, said she didn't want to discuss charges
against her.

She said her incident involving Marshall-Jones began about 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 when she initially appeared in the jail. Marshall-Jones
believed Mojica had eaten something and took her into a bathroom to
search her, Mojica said.

As soon as Mojica entered the bathroom, Marshall-Jones attacked her,
she said. "My right hand and wrist was bent backwards," Mojica
said. "My thumb was dislocated. It's still bruised."

A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office narrative last month of the
incident says: Marshall-Jones saw a 4-inch glass pipe near Mojica,
then led Mojica to a restroom to strip search her. Mojica placed an
unknown white powdery substance in her mouth and tried swallowing it,
Marshall-Jones said.

Marshall-Jones tried extracting the substance with her bare right
hand and called for help from Deputy Richard Sergi. Marshall-Jones
removed her hand from Mojica's mouth, put on a blue rubber glove and
tried again to remove the substance. Her attempts failed, but her
hand and glove tested positive for cocaine.

During the process, Sergi stuck his thumb in Mojica's mouth "and was
exposed to a mixture of blood and saliva," Marshall-Jones said in an
incident report.

The report doesn't indicate if Mojica was injured or taken to a

Sterner's attorney, John Trevena, said he isn't surprised by Mojica's
complaint against Marshall-Jones. Trevena's office has been "crushed"
with calls from people claiming they have been abused by jail and
prison guards locally and nationally.

Mojica said she was taken to a hospital before being booked about 7
p.m. that day and later spent about a week in a jail infirmary.

"I don't know why she was so manhandling," Mojica said. "I don't know
why she abused me the way she did. I didn't get a battery on [a law
enforcement officer charge], so that proves I didn't fight her. I
shouldn't have had a busted lip. I shouldn't have been talked to like
a dog."

A separate recently released video shows a detention deputy striking
inmate Marcella Pourmoghani-Esfahani, the woman's lawyer said.
Pourmoghani-Esfahani is shown in the video being struck by a deputy
in the holding area of the jail on Nov. 11, 2006. Her attorney
released the video Monday and said he has filed a federal civil
rights lawsuit against the deputy, the sheriff and the county.

Steve Yerrid, a longtime plaintiff's lawyer in Hillsborough County,
said he is not surprised that several people are making complaints
against jail staff right now. When a negative incident, such as
Sterner's drop from the wheelchair, gets high publicity, it's not
uncommon for many similar complaints to arise.

"It's amazing to watch the publicity in terms of awareness," Yerrid
said. "The public's right to know often results in a momentum. The
momentum right now is that anyone who has ever had a problem with law
enforcement and is contemplating action is going to take action right

That does not mean that the individual complaints or lawsuits will
have a greater chance of a successful outcome.

"The bottom line is what is appropriate and what isn't appropriate
has to happen on a case-by-case basis," Yerrid said. "Just because
there is an avalanche of cases won't change the merit of each case."

By and large, Yerrid said, law enforcement acts appropriately. That
doesn't mean there aren't exceptions, he said. Similarly, people do
file frivolous lawsuits, over-blowing minor incidents, Yerrid said.
That is not to say that some lawsuits have merit and represent
significant abuses of power, he said.

In the wheelchair incident, Sheriff David Gee almost immediately
condemned the deputy's actions. Yerrid said Gee's comments are

"That's what you want to have," he said, "not absolute blanket denial
every time."

The fact that Gee admitted sheriff's office responsibility for
Sterner's complaint also gives weight to Gee's integrity when he
denies abuse in other complaints about his deputies, Yerrid said.

Reporter Thomas W. Krause contributed to this report. Reporter Josh
Poltilove can be reached at or (813) 259-

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