HOUSTON – The Harris County District Attorney’s Office called a news conference Tuesday afternoon to announce that five detention officers have been indicted for their roles in the beating of a Harris County Jail inmate.
According to investigators, four of the officers were charged with aggravated assault by a public servant and the other officer was charged with assault.
Jail security video cameras captured the Sept. 4, 2016, use of force against inmate Jerome Bartee. That video is not being publicly released at this time due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
“The evidence shows these detention officers crossed the line when it comes to the use of force,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “They caused severe injury to an inmate who needed screws, stitches and a plate to reconstruct his face and a shattered eye socket.”
These actions are not representative of @HCSOTexas and the values we strive to uphold. We will continue with ongoing efforts to emphasize de-escalation techniques & other training for all personnel that aims to minimize the need for physical force to maintain order in the jail.
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) December 5, 2017
Jeremy Ringle, Joshua Degler, Napoleon Harmon and Andrew Rowell were indicted for aggravated assault by a public servant, a first-degree felony. They face a punishment of five to 99 years in prison, or a life sentence, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Salvador Garibay was indicted for misdemeanor assault. He faces a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $4,000.
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Ringle was terminated in February following an unrelated use-of-force investigation related to a July 2016 incident. Garibay Jr. and Rowell were terminated in September.
“A grand jury has determined that there is sufficient evidence these detention officers broke the law and that they should face trial for their actions,” Ogg said.
The detention officers were working at the jail at 1200 Baker Street at the time of the incident, which played out on the second floor of the facility in September 2016.
“I agree with former Sheriff Hickman’s determination that the use of force in this 2016 case was uncalled for, and that this incident represents a failure to uphold our duty to the people of Harris County,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “These actions are not representative of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the values that we strive to uphold. Our administration will continue with ongoing efforts to emphasize de-escalation techniques and other training for all personnel that aims to minimize the need for physical force to maintain order in the jail.”
Two current detention officers, Degler and Harmon, will be relieved of duty in accordance with Sheriff’s Office policy.
“The evidence shows that Jerome Bartee exchanged words with some detention officers,” said Assistant District Attorney Jules Johnson of the Civil Rights Division. “He was yanked to the ground by a number of Sheriff’s Office employees and beaten to the point he was unrecognizable. These cases will proceed like any other criminal cases in Harris County.