CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ross County Sheriff’s Office has terminated its jail administrator after an incident it said involved excessive force.
Sheriff George W. Lavender confirmed he terminated Maj. William White, and contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to look into the situation.
“Unfortunately, an incident occurred at the jail … in which an officer’s conduct fell below [our] standard,” Lavender wrote.
The firing stemmed from a Feb. 9 altercation between White and inmate Ronnie Dale Pettiford Jr., according to an incident report obtained from the Ross County Jail. Three workers in the jail were moving inmates to other locations. Pettiford, who was in jail for charges of obstructing justice, theft and violating probation, told workers around 12:15 p.m. that he was upset because he was being moved to a jail pod where he previously had issues.
Pettiford was moving his belongings down a stairwell with White and another employee following him. Around 12:20 p.m., Pettiford and White “engaged in a restraint,” according to the report. White threw the inmate into a side wall, and then into another wall with an audible impact, according to the incident report.
The report states Pettiford fell to the ground and the other jail employee then moved to hold his arm. White then raked his boot across Pettiford’s face. While the other employee tried to give the inmate instructions to roll over, the report said White kicked Pettiford in the mid-section twice and then dropped his knee into White’s left ribs.
Pettiford lost his breath and then yelled he was “sorry” and “done.” White then rolled him over and got on top of his back, and pushed his arm up his back towards his head. The jail administrator then pushed the other jail employee away and into a wall, and then punched Pettiford in the head while he was against the concrete floor, according to the report.
Another deputy and a captain arrived and put Pettiford in handcuffs. The report said Pettiford was taken to a nurse around 12:34 p.m., who said the inmate needed to go to the hospital as a result of his injuries. Staff at Adena Regional Medical Center confirmed he suffered injuries to his ribs and then returned him to the Ross County Jail.
The report stated Ross County administration was notified of the incident immediately afterward. The sheriff said criminal charges could result from the incident but would be handled by another agency to ensure neutrality.
“I remain firm that misconduct by officers, regardless of their rank, will not be tolerated,” Lavender wrote.