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Florida Jail Guard Fired and Charged with Battery After Slamming Prisoner into Concrete Wall

by Jo Ellen Nott

On October 26, 2022, a guard at Florida’s Nassau County Jail was arrested and charged with using excessive force on a detainee. Because Joshwa Edsall, 27, was still on his probationary period after his March 2022 hiring, he was also terminated by the county Sheriff’s Office.

The incident started when Edsall responded to a disturbance on October 15, 2022. An unnamed detainee had demanded his own cell and was being disruptive. The Sheriff’s Office reported that Edsall pepper-sprayed the detainee in the face to gain control of him. That was apparently not against jail policy. But then the man turned his back to wipe the pepper spray from his eyes, Edsall gripped him by the shoulder and armpit and smashed him into a concrete wall. The injured detainee then fell to the ground. Another deputy stepped up to handcuff him. Then, though he was already subdued, Edsall drove a knee into the detainee’s back and Tasered him, too.

The detainee was taken to Baptist Nassau Hospital to receive treatment for injuries sustained to his head and face. Edsall was called in for a complaint interview with his superiors, to whom he acknowledged that he had crossed a line.

Sheriff Bill Leeper said “the expectation is that our members of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) exhibit the highest level of professionalism.” However, he added, “for some reason Edsall let his temper take control and take over.”

“He lost control and he lost his job,” the Sheriff said.

Edsall had previously worked for the state Department of Corrections. Sheriff Leeper explained the NCSO policy that resulted in his dismissal: “Per our agency’s policy, [a guard] can only use that force which is necessary to overcome the resistance.”

But he said Edsall instead “used unnecessary and excessive force to control the situation of an inmate. I’m not going to tolerate bad behavior by our citizens and I’m not going to tolerate bad behavior by our employees. It’s unfortunate that someone would decide to lose his job and his career, but that’s exactly what he did.”

Sources: First Coast News, WJXT

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