Reporting Steve Pickett
DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Nearly two years after Rhonda Wells was injured at the Dallas County Jail, she has filed a lawsuit against the former detention officer who hurt her.
Surveillance video shows the jailer, Rachel Graham, slamming a handcuffed Wells to the floor face first on July 2, 2011. Wells has filed an excessive force federal lawsuit against Graham and is now talking about the incident.
“That is not the way to correct a person that is in handcuffs with no self-defense. I didn’t even have my hands to break the fall. It could have been a lot worse. At one point, I thought I was going to die,” said Wells.
She says she was left unconscious, bleeding with her teeth knocked out. Moments before she was dropped to the ground, Wells was being booked for a DWI arrest. Cameras inside the booking area of the jail capture Wells step over the red line, which she had been instructed to stand behind. The jailer reacts by extending her leg and slamming Wells to the ground.
“This is one of the most vicious, flagrant, unnecessary displays of abuse of power that I’ve seen in quite some time,” said Wells’ attorney, Scott Palmer.
While Wells lay in a pool of blood, the video shows officer Graham going back to the processing routine. It also records the reaction of the Dallas police officer, who arrested Wells. She covered her eyes and walked away, after seeing the takedown. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department fired Wells, and the District Attorney’s office prosecuted her. She pleaded guilt to one felony count and is now on probation.
Meanwhile, Wells has thousands of dollars in medical and dental bills.
“It was wrong. And people need to know that our justice system is not all bad, but to come across some of the bad ones is not good,” said Wells.
George Milner, Graham’s criminal attorney, says the video doesn’t tell you the details of Wells’ alleged intoxication, including the claim that she plowed her car through a liquor store, hours before the video was recorded.
“She had to be drunk, and her intoxication played a role in her not being told what to do in the jail,” said Milner.
Wells is still facing the DWI case, but says nothing she did that night warranted what the officer did to her.
She says this incident has completely consumed her life. It’s just horrible, and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Its horrible.”
Wells is not suing Dallas County in this case.
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