USA – Tennessee Prison – Taser Probe Into Eye Under Investigation (2011-01-13)

Published on January 13 2011 by admin

[[GlobalShock: 27 year old Scott Ramsey, in jail for probation violation for failing to appear for a drug rehabilitation program, was shot with a taser between the eyes to break up a prison brawl: non-compliance with officers’ orders. He has probably lost the use of one eye. In April of 2010, Corrections officer Jonathan Wingo, who fired the shock had completed eight hours of training (what did he learn?). Before the Monday use of the Taser, Wingo had fired it five other times. Four of those one other with the probes. (Suggestion of widespread use in prisons?) None of those shots hit above the neck….]]

Challel9 News, by John Maxwell. (See 2 ½ minute video in the URL below)

27 year old Scott Ramsey never knew the turn his life would take on Monday afternoon inside the Marion County, Tennessee jail. “More than likely I’m going to be blind for the rest of my life. They said they’re going to try to save my eye. They said they have to put a glass eye in there.” One of the Taser probe, which carries a high voltage charge, landed in his right eye, right next to his nose but still within his eye socket.

Corrections officer Jonathan Wingo was in the process of breaking up a fight between Ramsey and another inmate. Sheriff Bo Burnett emphatically described the fight as a “brawl” and officer Wingo was within guidelines. Sheriff Burnett explained officer Wingo’s verbal warning to break up the fight and announcement the Taser shot was coming justified his action. When fired from a distance, a Taser stun gun projects probes on a wire which transmit the current into the person they hit. Ramsey told us he heard Wingo trying to break up the fight, but didn’t see him just before the Taser deployment.

NewsChannel 9 discovered Ramsey and Sheriff Burnett give quite different descriptions of where the second probe hit. Ramsey emphatically described each probe contact point. We met him outside the jail. He had a bandage wrapped around his head and covering his eye. Doctors removed the probe while in surgery. Ramsey recounted the second probe and pointed right between his eyes, touching the bandage and saying, “In the forehead and the other one hit me right there in the eye.” NewsChannel 9 asked if one of them hit him in the back as Sheriff Burnett said. Ramsey responded, “It didn’t hit me nowhere else but right here and right there (pointing to his forehead and right eye socket). I pulled that one out.When I was jerking because it was shocking me. It was in reflex and I went to pull this one out and I went ‘Oh my God,’ it’s in my eye.”

After NewsChannel 9’s interview with Ramsey, we followed up with Sheriff Burnett and asked him how his investigation concluded the second probe hit Ramsey in the back. “I was thinking maybe it was a statement from one of the jailers or corrections officers,” Burnett said. We informed him Ramsey emphatically said it struck him in the forehead. The sheriff then said, “I wasn’t aware of that and I don’t have all the information at this time. That’s the reason I spoke to the attorney general (District Attorney General Mike Taylor) today and I requested the TBI to look into this and answer these questions. As I’ve said before, I have nothing to hide.”

Sheriff Burnett says video surveillance captured the quote brawl between Ramsey and another inmate. He has also reviewed Wingo’s Taser deployment, to stop the fight, but says the video is not clear enough to see exactly where the second probe went. NewsChannel 9 requested that videotape. Sheriff Burnett declined saying all evidence will be turned over to the TBI.

Meanwhile, Taser International warns against pointing the high voltage stun gun at the eyes. Taser trains to aim at the chest or legs when using the probes. NewsChannel 9 asked Sheriff Burnett if officer Winslow indicated why the shots ended in Ramsey’s head. “I don’t from what I can tell, I just can’t tell enough from the tape to answer that question,” Sheriff Burnett said. Taser also says in its instructional material that the probes can separate about one foot for each seven feet traveled. NewsChannel 9 examined Officer Wingo’s file.

It indicates he has worked in the jail for 14 months. In April of 2010, he completed eight hours of training. Before the Monday use of the Taser, Wingo had fired it five other times. Four of those one other with the probes. None of those shots hit above the neck.

Sheriff Burnett reiterated, “As I’ve said before, I’m standing behind my employee. I think he was in the right. If he feels like he needs some time off, I’ll make some arrangements.” Officer Wingo has not been suspended but was off today. NewsChannel 9 stopped by his house, but no one answered the door. This reporter left a business card seeking his version of how this happened.

Meanwhile, Ramsey says the past three days have been “mind-blowing.” He added, “I should have been Tased from the chest down, you know what I’m saying.”

NewsChannel 9 asked Ramsey if he felt the sheriff’s department was responsible for him losing his eye, he responded, “Half and half, I guess.”

He posted bond late this morning after doctors removed the Taser probe from his eye and operated on his eye. His attorney, Jerry Summers, said the top priority was preventing any infection in his eyes. Summers indicated a jail may not be the best place for him to stay. Ramsey had been in jail for probation violation for failing to appear for a drug rehabilitation program. His initial charge was theft. Summers said he will investigate what transpired and “if meritorious will take it further.”

Comments are closed.