Officer says inmate attempted assault before he 'secured her'

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A former detention officer, who was caught on video body slamming an inmate, says that the inmate attempted to assault him before he "secured her" on the ground in the booking area of the Al Cannon Detention Center.

The sheriff's office says Jonathan Lewis was fired on Friday for "violation of Detention Center Policy." Authorities released video on Tuesday of Lewis body slamming an inmate to the ground.

According to Lewis' detention center report, the Feb. 25 attempted assault incident started when the inmate began yelling into a phone at the processing center. Lewis says after struggling with the inmate for the phone he told the inmate to go to a holding cell.

Lewis' report states that he then attempted to gain control of the inmate's arm to place her in an "escort position" but she resisted. Lewis says the inmate then grabbed his arm and placed her hands around his head.

Lewis reported that he then lifted the inmate from the ground by her arms to free her grip from the back of his head and "secured her to the ground." The report states that the inmate was to be charged with assault, physically harming or attempting to harm staff and refusal to obey an order.

Investigators say that on Feb. 27, the sheriff's office requested the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate the incident.  After a review of the incident, the sheriff's office requested that SLED conduct an investigation, which is continuing, to determine if criminal charges are warranted against Lewis.

Lewis was placed on administrative leave and then terminated on Friday. Lewis has been with the detention center since May 2007.

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