A 62-year-old Ohio man held at the Lee County Florida jail for disorderly intoxication ended up dead after being pepper sprayed repeatedly over a 48-hour period. A photo obtained by Fox News shows Nick Christie wearing a hood, strapped naked to a chair and covered with pepper spray. This is Fox News Tampa Bay:
Tom DePolis spent more than 30 years in law enforcement at the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He's seen first-hand the effects of pepper spray and knows its limitations. He can see no reason for deputies to repeatedly pepper spray Nick Christie since he was already in custody.
"The purpose is to temporarily incapacitate someone -- temporarily, that's the key word, so you can restrain them," says DePolis.
Monshay Gibbs was a deputy trainee at the jail at the time. In a video deposition, she testified that she thought the way Nick Christie was treated was excessive. "He had a spit mask on and was naked," she said on the video while under oath. Gibbs testified that Christie pleaded with guards to take off the spit mask because he couldn't breathe.
Mr. Christie's wife says she begged authorities to get him medical help because he was depressed, off his medication and had been been acting erratically for several days prior to leaving Ohio for Florida. The deputies ignored her pleas.
The coroner ruled Mr. Christie's death a homicide and indicated that his heart failed as a result of the repeated pepper spraying.
This homicide occurred two years ago and guess what? The Lee County state's attorney cleared the sheriff's department of any wrongdoing. None of the officers involved have even been disciplined.
Followers of this blog are familiar with my discussions of group madness. I do think that's what we're seeing in this case. We've also learned from the work of social psychologists, that there were probably situational factors that disposed the officers to engage in brutal conduct. These factors represent failures on the part of supervisors at the jail and the sheriff's office.
I'll spare you my assessment of the state's attorney.