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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A video obtained by News Channel 11 shows a Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Department lieutenant slapping a man in handcuffs.
Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen confirmed Monday the employee in the video was Lt. Eddie Graybeal III, the son of Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal Jr.
Laitinen described the incident as an “assault” but said Lt. Graybeal was never charged or suspended.
“We felt certain that this incident would never happen again,” she said.
Department documents reveal the incident happened after 2:20 a.m. on November 10th, 2018 in the sally port area of the Washington County Detention Center in Jonesborough.
Deputies had taken William Rawls, 30, into custody after responding to a report of “an intoxicated person trying to start a fight” on Conklin Road in Jonesborough.
Once on scene, deputies discovered Rawls had an active warrant out of Blount County, Tennessee and advised him he was “being detained” until the warrant could be confirmed.
The police report described Rawls as “very intoxicated and aggravated.”
Once in custody, Laitinen said Rawls continued to be combative.
A video of the incident, sent to News Channel 11 by an anonymous source, shows a verbal exchange resulted in Lt. Graybeal slapping Rawls while he was handcuffed.
Laitinen said Lt. Graybeal self-reported the incident the next day to Major Mark Page.
Laitinen and Page then reviewed the footage and determined it was a violation of the department’s excessive force policy.
“It’s definitely against our policy to use force against a handcuffed individual who isn’t making any threats towards you,” said Laitinen. “You can’t use force for someone calling you bad names or for someone who just won’t cooperate or behave.”
Lt. Graybeal was issued a letter of review/counseling documenting the incident in his personnel file but no further disciplinary action was taken, according to the department.
Laitinen said Lt. Graybeal, an employee of the department for 24 years, had no similar disciplinary issues documented on what she called a “stellar record.”
In an interview with News Channel 11’s Jackie DeFusco Monday, Laitinen said the matter was never referred to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or the District Attorney General.
Laitinen said favoritism didn’t play a role in this decision.
“Had I thought this warranted more, I would have gone to the sheriff with more. To be honest, to my knowledge, I don’t know that the sheriff knew about it until today,” she said. “I didn’t take it to him.”
Laitinen also said harsher punishment would’ve resulted if Rawls had sustained any serious injuries.
“If he had closed-fist punched this individual, that would’ve been suspension. Depending on how bad his injuries, it would’ve been termination,” she said.
Laitinen said the department has no intention of imposing additional punishments on Lt. Graybeal.
She said Rawls never filed a formal complaint with the department and he later pleaded guilty to evading and resisting arrest.
This is a developing story. News Channel 11 will have a full report tonight at 11 pm.