MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two Shelby County deputy jailers have been indicted on charges they beat an inmate at the jail in May.
Jailers Reginald Wilkins, 39, and Odell Underwood, 54, are charged with official repression and official misconduct, both felonies, and simple assault. They are listed in the county jail roster with $20,000 bonds.
Sheriff Floyd Bonner said Wilkins had been with the department for 16 years, and Underwood had been with the department for 25 years. Both officers have been relieved of duty without pay and face administrative charges.
Bonner also acknowledged that the jail can be difficult at times but believes the system worked to hold these jailers accountable.
“All the checks and double checks worked,” he said.
The detainee, Damien Florez-Ramirez, filed a lawsuit in September following the beating in May. This is the second time he’s sued for an alleged assault by officers at 201 Poplar. He filed a similar complaint in 2021 before it was dismissed.
The sheriff said the detainee had assaulted a jailer earlier in the day, but had been subdued and was being treating when the beating allegedly happened.
Sheriff Bonner also said there was an internal and criminal investigation presented to the District Attorney’s Office.
“There was no cameras looking into the room in which the assault occurred. There are cameras outside of the room, that captured some critical, corroborative evidence,” said Deputy District Attorney Paul Hagerman.
Bonner said when he believes his officers are right he stands by them, but this was not one of those cases.
He also addressed a recent incident in which one inmate was stabbed by another inside a courtroom. When he was asked where the sharp object came from, Bonner said the jail, which is over 40 years old, is “literally falling apart.”
Department is working to hire new employees as it faces a staffing shortages.