Cherokee County Jailer Charged With Assault, Battery Of Inmate
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - A former Cherokee County jailer is charged with assault and battery after the sheriff's office says he used excessive force to take down an inmate.
The Cherokee County undersheriff said it all started after the jailer accused the inmate of misusing a jail calling card.
The Tahlequah Daily Press shared jail surveillance video with News On 6.
On the left side of the screen, you can see a jailer talking with inmate Justin Yandell.
Once Yandell starts to walk away, the jailer body slams the inmate.
"Just because somebody's in jail doesn't mean you can treat them any way you want to, and in my opinion, it was excessive force," Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said.
Chennault said the assault happened during Memorial Day weekend.
According to jailer James Keener's incident report, he was arguing with Yandell over using his cellmate's calling card.
Jail administration says Keener's story didn't add up to what the surveillance video revealed.
"As law enforcement officers, we're trained not to lose fights, but we're also trained not to start fights," Chennault said.
Chennault said Keener simply lost his temper and failed to follow office policies.
"This was something that could have been avoided by keeping your temper, keeping your cool," Chennault said. "The inmate did everything he could to avoid a confrontation. I think the jailer just lost his temper and went overboard."
Keener was suspended during the investigation.
He was later fired after the district attorney decided to file charges.
Yandell was treated for minor head injuries at a local hospital.
There is a warrant out for Keener's arrest.
The undersheriff says Keener is expected to turn himself in Friday night or Saturday.