Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton says an attorney affirmed his decision to fire two deputies who worked at the jail, for using a pressure washer on an inmate.
Talton said the attorney, Jeff Lasseter, listened to appeals from Lt. Shannon Perry and Sgt. Ryan Burleson. Both deputies asked for appeal hearings.
A third deputy allegedly involved in the case, Sgt. Michelle Beckham, has asked for an appeal hearing, but it has not been scheduled yet.
Talton said Lasseter wrote that Burleson and Perry violated their oath of office, because the oath requires prisoners to be treated humanely.
He said the deputies will be notified of the decision today by letter.
Talton said the incident happened in June when an inmate was being held in a "rubber room" at the jail. He says the inmate was smearing feces on the walls and on himself. Instead of using a hose to clean the cell and the inmate, Talton said the deputies used a pressure washer.
He said the inmate was not injured.
Attorney for Shannon Perry, George Williams, said he is "extremely disappointed but not totally surprised" by the decision.
Williams said Perry worked at the jail for 12 years and offered numerous character witnesses at her appeal, including former jail administrator Major Charles Holt. Holt recently retired from his position.
He said Perry saw what was going on the night of the incident, and didn't see any problems. Williams said the type of unit that the officers were using to clean the inmate.
Williams said it was a small electric unit that was being used to clean the room. He said the hose was broken, and that the water spray "was less than a garden hose."
He said the inmate was "trying to submit himself to the water" to clean himself off.
Williams contends that Perry was fired because "it sounds bad to the public that an inmate was pressure washed."
He says he intends to pursue the case further with an appeal in Superior or Federal Court.
Burleson's lawyer, Stan Martin says the pressure washer wasn't a pressure as we know it.
"It's not a pressure washer like you use to clean concrete. It's not real high pressure. It wasn't working properly. There was a leak in the hose; it's just an electric one it's not run by a gas engine, so it really had no more pressure than a typical garden hose."
Sheriff Talton said Friday it does not really matter if the pressure washer was broken or not. Instead he said he focused on the fact that they decided to use it in the first place without knowing if there was a problem with it.
Martin says his client was following the orders of a superior officer.
He says, "In reality the situation was created by the inmate and these deputies and other personnel were simply trying to correct the situation. They were trying to help the inmate not harm him in any way and the evidence clearly shows that."
Martin also says he plans to appeal the decision.