Pinellas Deputy Fired After Hitting Inmate Who Uses Wheelchair
This was the second time the jail deputy had been accused of similar behavior, according to the Pinellas sheriff.
LARGO – A jail deputy was fired Thursday (Jan. 17) after an internal investigation concluded he had used excessive force on a prisoner who uses a wheelchair, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.
Aaron Hull, 46, had worked for the sheriff’s office since Feb. 1, 2006. He was a detention deputy at Pinellas County Jail, 14400 49th St. N, at the time of his firing.
Hull admitted he acted inappropriately, investigators said.
Investigators said Hull was disciplined in 2015 for similar behavior after he entered an inmate housing unit to resolve an issue with an inmate. Hull flipped over a table as he made his way towards an inmate causing
damage to the table. Hull said then his actions were an effort to gain the attention of the inmate.
According to the Administrative Investigation Division, on Sept. 24 Hull was verbally counseling a group of inmates who were creating a disturbance while the housing unit was in lockdown.
Investigators say 24-year-old Taylor Schuessler, an inmate who uses a wheelchair, verbally challenged Hull and the other inmates. Hull gave Schuessler verbal commands directing him to stop his behavior but the inmate refused.
Hull stood up and aggressively kicked his own chair before approaching Schuessler who was seated in a wheelchair. Hull placed his left hand on the back of the Schuessler’s neck and engaged in a verbal exchange with the inmate.
Surveillance video at the jail showed Hull poke Schuessler multiple times in the head with his right index finger while he maintained a grasp on the inmate’s neck during the verbal exchange. Investigators said the actions provoked and escalated the inmate’s behavior.
While standing next to Schuessler, Hull took hold of the inmate’s shirt. Hull engaged in a verbal exchange with Schuessler with his face close to Schuessler’s face.
Schuessler responded by spitting at Hull’s face.
Hull reacted by striking Schuessler three times on the left side of his face with an open right hand. Schuessler remained noncompliant and resisted.
Hull tried to call for help and began to remove Schuessler for relocation in his wheelchair. During the relocation, Schuessler tried hitting Hull with his elbows, closed fist, and his head.
Hull told investigators Schuessler struck him multiple times during the transport but the strikes had no effect on him.
Hull grasped Schuessler around his torso until the inmate deescalated his resistance.
Neither Deputy Hull nor Schuessler were injured.
During the course of the administrative investigation, Hull admitted that he reacted inappropriately. Hull admitted that poking the inmate in the head was inappropriate contact and he should have stopped.
Schuessler was released from jail Nov. 16.
Photo of Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office courtesy of Pinellas County.
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