Judge: No excessive force with restraint chair at Gwinnett jail

A federal judge found in favor of Gwinnett County Sherriff Butch Conway and staff over the use of the jail’s restraint chair, officials said Friday.

A 2013 lawsuit claimed excessive force by the Rapid Response Team, which is a jail tactical team that trains regularly for jail emergencies and whose members are tasked with restraining disruptive inmates.

“I’ve been proud of the Rapid Response Team and their excellent work since the team was formed in 2008,” Conway said. “They train hard to maintain a safe environment in the jail for inmates and staff alike.”

Craig Jones and John Cicala filed the lawsuit on behalf of former Gwinnett County Jail inmates. They had hundreds of hours of tapes that they said showed ‘takedowns’ by the Rapid Response Team, Channel 2 Action News previously reported.

In one video, a member of the RRT broke a man’s nose while he was restrained in a chair, Jones told Channel 2.

“You see him bleeding there? That’s blood coming out of his nose,”Jones said.

In another video, a deputy shocked a woman and then you can see team members bend her legs backward.

“They get on top of them. They twist them up,” Jones said. “They use pressure point techniques against people who aren’t resisting.”

Despite videos and testimony by a use of force expert and the former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, the RRT was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The court found that no constitutional violations had occurred and dismissed all the plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety.

Conway has been unwavering in his support of the Rapid Response Team.

“Interestingly, this is the second summary judgment in our favor from the federal court,” Conway said. “When you do things the right way, things always seem to work out in your favor. It’ll be interesting to see if attorneys Craig Jones and John Cicala are ready to concede that my highly trained, experienced deputies are doing a good job.”

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