Suspect beaten in East Alabama, three officers suspended

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email | Twitter

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Two Russell County Sheriff's deputies and a Phenix City police officer are on administrative leave without pay after a suspect was beaten while being taken into custody.

Sunday afternoon, law enforcement agencies from Lee County, Russell County, and Phenix City held a joint press conference to announce the suspension of Russell County deputies Kirby Dollar and Tim Watford, as well as Phenix City police officer Rachael Hauser.

On Friday, three local bail bondsmen located a suspect, 31-year-old Patrick Harrington, wanted on several charges in Harris (Ga.), Russell, and Escambia counties. Harrington has been on the run for the past few weeks, with several charges following him, including attempted murder, theft and various drug charges.

Friday night three bondsmen found him asleep in his car on Mullin Road in Lee County and called Russell County deputies after taking him into custody. Russell County deputies Kirby Dollar and Tim Watford, along with Phenix City Police officer Rachael Hauser, were drinking alcohol at a party Friday night when they got the call saying Patrick Harrington had been picked up.

Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell said, "The three individuals drove to where the bondsmen had the individual. The bondsmen had already tased him and he was on the ground handcuffed, recovering from the tase. When the drug agent got there and began to assault him."

Both deputies, Dollar and Watford, assaulted the suspect, causing head trauma and injuries to his upper body. Harrington was taken to Jack Houghston Memorial Hospital to be treated for his injuries. The two deputies did not use weapons of any kind during the assault. Officer Hauser played no role in the beating.

"We began an internal evaluation and investigation to see what happened and as a result these three individuals are in serious trouble," Sheriff Boswell told News Leader Nine.

All three officers are on administrative leave without pay until the Alabama and Federal Bureaus of Investigation can complete the case. Sheriff Boswell adds a Lee County grand jury could bring charges against the officers in the next few weeks, "All of us are very disturbed and disappointed about this incident and the way it came about."

Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith added, "I can't think of a single case that would justify this kind of action. He was taken into custody, it was under control and didn't need to go any further. Policy dictates that is tops, the law dictates that it stop and professionalism dictates that it stop."

Harrington has been released from the hospital and for security purposes, is being held in the Lee County Detention Center.

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