A Rice County corrections officer was charged last week with twice assaulting jail inmates and misconduct of a public officer.
The charges stem from two separate incidents, one the evening of Sept. 6, the other early the following morning.
Olmsted County investigators say jail videos taken Sept. 6 show a female inmate, arrested from drunken driving, inside her cell while a corrections office, Deputy Stacy Sartor, was at the cell doorway with James David Ingham, 31, of Dundas, standing behind her. Video shows the inmate, who was not named in the complaint, and Sartor engaged in an “animated discussion.”
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Mower County Attorney, events transpired as follows:
Sartor told the inmate, who was argumentative, verbally aggressive and pounding on the door, to stop her disruptive behavior or be placed in restraints. Sartor “gently push(ed)” the inmate backward in attempt to create distance between them, but as Sartor backed away from the defendant, Ingham stepped around Sartor and into the cell. The inmate, with her hands behind her back, backed away from Ingham, then leaned in.
Ingham stepped forward toward the inmate and delivered a SPEAR (Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response) strike to the woman’s chest/shoulder area.
“The force threw her to the wall and she fell on the floor,” according investigators who viewed the jail video.
The woman allegedly required four staples to close up her head wound.
Sartor told investigators that she didn’t see the assault, but did witness the inmate “flying backward through the air,” and that Ingham told her the inmate “lunged” at him.
Ingham, in his report, maintained that the inmate lunged at him and that he used the self-defense method to put distance between himself and the inmate, but that she slipped and hit her head on the jailhouse wall.
Following a complaint of excessive force by a second inmate, also not named in court documents, Olmsted County investigators reviewed video footage of the alleged incident, finding that Ingham and other law enforcement officers were carrying the inmate into the jail to place him in restraints when Ingham continued to use a technique intended to help subdue the inmate even after he was told it was no longer necessary.
In two emails, sent by a sheriff’s deputy and Faribault Police officer to their respective supervisors and reviewed by investigators, the officers expressed concern that Ingham used excessive force on the inmate, pressing his arm on the inmate’s neck when the inmate was passively resisting, pushing the handcuffed inmate into a restraint chair and pressing his knee into the inmate’s groin. Twice, Ingham reportedly applied pressure inward and upward just under the inmate’s nose to subdue him, once when the inmate was physically unable to comply.
Ingham, who’s been with the Rice County Sheriff’s Office since October 2014, was placed on administrative leave following the incident while an internal affairs investigation is completed, according to a written statement from Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn. Due to potential conflicts of interest, Olmsted County handled the criminal investigation while the Mower County Attorney’s Office filed charges.
According to the complaint, Ingham is the SPEAR instructor for the jail and has received several use of force complaints. Rice County, in a public records request said it had no public data available regarding complaints against Ingham. The existence and status of any complaints or charges is public information, according to Minnesota statutes.
The female inmate, interviewed Sept. 18, said she had a limited recollection of the alleged assault, and that she was still suffering from headaches and pain in her head and when she opened her mouth. The male inmate was interviewed Sept. 16. He too, remembered little of the incident, but said his nose still hurt.
Ingham initially agreed to an interview, but his attorney later cancelled it.
He was charged with felony third-degree assault, four counts of gross misdemeanor misconduct of a public official and two counts of fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Ingham is set to appear in court Nov. 22.