WGNS has learned that a Rutherford County Jail employee who was accused of wrongfully spraying pepper spray into the eyes of an inmate this past December, is now working in the booking department.
In 2013, jail employee James Vanderveer reportedly held the pepper spray about 4-inches away from the inmates face when he allegedly sprayed it. At the time, the inmate was strapped to a chair, completely restrained and wearing a spit mask. In other words, the situation did not warrant the spray, according to an undisclosed source.
In most situations, the spray is held about one foot away from the eyes of the intended target. That was not the situation when Vanderveer sprayed the inmate, according to a video of the incident. After the spray, the inmate was left locked in a cell with both his arms and legs restrained and no way to wipe or cleanse his face of the painful liquid.
Despite the situation, Vanderveer is now a Deputy in the booking department. Lisa Marchesoni, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff's Office, told WGNS on Wednesday afternoon that Vandeveer has been in booking since last year.
The following was released by the Sheriff's Office:
Deputy Vanderveer has been employed in the booking division since May 2012.
The booking staff uses the restraint chair for the safety of the inmates, other inmates and officers and to prevent destruction of county property.
This inmate was placed in the restraint chair because he was drunk, belligerent and combative with the booking deputies. He was placed in the chair for his safety and the safety of others. The spit mask was placed on him because he was spitting on the booking deputies and Murfreesboro Police officers.
Once he was put in the chair, he was checked on regularly by the booking deputies and the medical staff.
The booking staff was monitoring the inmate on a camera when they noticed his leg was loose from the restraint and he tried to tip over the chair. Booking deputies entered the cell for fear the inmate was going to tip over the chair and injure himself.
Booking Deputy Vanderveer asked the inmate several times to allow him to re-restrain the inmate’s leg. The inmate refused to comply. Also, Booking Deputy Vanderveer feared the inmate would kick him in the face. When the inmate refused to comply, Booking Deputy Vanderveer applied a chemical agent to his face. The inmate then complied and allowed him to become fully restrained.
Anytime a chemical agent is applied, the inmate is secured and then the medical staff is immediately brought in to check the inmate. The medical staff checked him at regular intervals.
The inmate apologized for his actions on release.