Deputy tied to for-profit company accused in pepper spray lawsui - WSMV Channel 4

Deputy tied to for-profit company accused in pepper spray lawsuit

Posted: Updated: Oct 09, 2015 07:18 PM
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

The Channel 4 I-Team has uncovered more family ties in a conflict of interest investigation at the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.

This week, the I-Team has been reporting that the aunt and uncle of Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold own a for-profit company that sells electronic cigarettes to Arnold's inmates.

The I-Team has now learned their son and Arnold's cousin works for the sheriff and his employment has been rocky.

Public records show James Vanderveer has been sued twice for pepper-spraying inmates in custody. One of the incidents was caught on jail surveillance camera.

Video recorded inside the Rutherford County Jail in 2013 shows Demario Harris tied in a restraint chair after being arrested for disorderly conduct. He was wearing a mask because officers said he had been spitting at them.

The video, obtained under an open records request from Axl David, shows a deputy take a canister of pepper spray and spray it under the mask. According to a witness, Harris was left without medical attention for 10 minutes.

Harris' lawyer alleged he wasn't struggling or combative and the pepper spray damaged his eyes.

The deputy in the video is Vanderveer, the son of John and Judy Vanderveer and the cousin of Arnold. He is being sued in federal court.

John and Judy Vanderveer own JailCigs, the company selling e-cigarettes in Arnold's jail.

John Vanderveer manned a booth in Florida this week promoting JailCigs to Florida sheriffs.

James Vanderveer has also been sued in another pepper spray incident. Last December, another inmate said James Vanderveer sprayed him while he was locked in his cell.

The lawsuit was thrown out because the inmate waited too long to file suit.

In the pepper spray incident involving Harris, the I-Team has obtained internal reports from a witness who questioned James Vanderveer's use of pepper spray.

The deputy in the cell when it happened wrote, "I said, 'Jamie, no,' as I felt this was unnecessary. In my opinion, inmate Harris should not have been sprayed as he was restrained in a chair with shackles."

James Vanderveer was given a written warning, but he still works for the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.

The I-Team contacted the sheriff's office and James Vanderveer's attorney for comment, but did not hear back by deadline. 

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