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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Handcuffed man slammed to floor, dragged with strap in Clark County Jail video that prompted investigation

By Savannah Eadens Oregonian

Surveillance video released Friday shows a Clark County sheriff’s deputy violently slamming to the ground a man whose hands were cuffed behind his back, then deputies dragging him to the cell door using a strap.

The footage was released by Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins after the conclusion of a use-of-force investigation.

The video, which blocks the faces of the man and deputies, shows four deputies standing outside a cell about 6:30 a.m on Aug. 13 and cuffing the man who was in custody through an access hole in the door. They deliver a meal before collecting and tossing his used food trays into trash bin.

The only Clark County corrections deputy who has been publicly identified – Robert Hanks – is initially seen motioning for the man to back up after he was handcuffed for a search of his cell. The video does not include audio, so it’s unclear what discussion was taking place.

The man doesn’t move, and Hanks aggressively shoves him against the cell bunk. The deputy slams then the man into a corner of the cinderblock wall and pins him, ripping a du-rag cap off his head. It’s unclear from the video if the man is resisting, but moments later Hanks pins him against the bunk again, raises the man’s arms high over the back of his head, then slams him face-first onto the concrete floor.

Two other deputies along with Hanks pin him down with their knees on his back.

Surveillance footage from two angles outside the cell shows a deputy leaving for about a minute and returning with a red strap, which they hook to the handcuffs on the man’s wrists. The four deputies grab the rope from outside the cell door and pull the man, dragging him backwards on the ground through the cell with his hands behind his back so they can remove the cuffs through the door’s access hole.

For several minutes, the man paces around his cell, rubbing his wrists, clenching his hands and checking his legs. He holds a note up to the camera but it’s not legible in the video, then he sits down to eat.

Authorities have not publicly identified the man who was in custody or said whether he was hurt.

Hanks is under criminal investigation after the Clark County Jail incident, authorities say.

Hanks was put on disciplinary administrative leave after the Aug. 13 incident, which a jail commander said included a “potentially criminal” use of force. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to an inquiry from the Oregonian about Hanks’ employment or pay status.

The agency said the inmate’s cell was located in the jail’s maximum-security unit because of “his history of violence” and previous assaults on jailers. The segregation unit houses “violent inmates, inmates with behavioral issues and inmates on suicide watch,” the agency said.

“The internal investigation will determine if this is the proper use of the tether and other techniques used,” said Sergeant Brent Waddell, a Clark County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, in a news release Friday. “We are not prepared to make a formal statement due to the early stages of the internal investigation. We will wait for the completed investigation and then provide more information.”

A sergeant was also disciplined for neglecting to review video footage of the incident, the sheriff’s office said, but did not clarify the timeline or details.

Atkins earlier this month said in a news release he was “very troubled” by surveillance footage of the incident.

“I know the importance of not jumping to conclusions or prejudging an incident based upon video alone,” Atkins said in a statement early March. “I did, however, order that the matter be immediately referred to an outside agency for a criminal investigation.”

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday completed an independent investigation into the incident and presented its findings to Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik, according to Atkins.

Atkins said the sheriff’s office delayed an internal affairs investigation while awaiting the results of the outside review, but one is now underway.

Golik said his office received the investigative report March 10 and is reviewing the case. He did not provide any further comment.

The other involved corrections deputies, who have not been publicly identified, also face pending internal affairs investigations, Atkins said.

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