FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) — A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is under investigation after, witnesses said, he dragged a handcuffed female inmate down a hallway at the Broward County Courthouse Monday morning.
Chief Assistant Public Defender Lynn Desanti said she was walking down the hall when she heard the inmate’s cries. “I could hear screaming, and I could see a deputy yelling at somebody, and all I could hear was, ‘If you don’t get up, I’m going to drag you,'” she said.
Desanti’s husband, who also works as an attorney at the Broward County Courthouse, said he was inside a courtroom when the commotion outside drew his attention. “I was in court handling a case, and the courtroom I was in, everybody in there, including the judge, heard a horrendous sound like an animal being tortured,” he said.
The couple told 7News their paths rarely cross during their work day, but the interaction between the armed deputy and the mentally ill, shackled inmate brought them together.
Authorities said the inmate, 28-year-old Dasyl Jeanette Rios, was at the courthouse for a felony probation violation concerning a case of criminal mischief and trespassing. When she couldn’t say goodbye to her mother, she was taken to the hallway and refused to sit on the bench, which his when, Desanti said, the deputy grabbed her feet and began dragging her.
Once Gelin saw what was happening, he took out his cell phone and began recording the incident. Rios is heard in the cell phone footage pleading with the deputy to stop dragging her. “Stop! You’re hurting me!” she is heard screaming, adding at one point, “I hate my life.”
“He dragged her all throughout the courthouse until she went to the holding cell,” said Desanti.
“They could have had a wheelchair, they could have had a stretcher, they could have had somebody with just the slightest bit of compassion,” said Gelin.
The deputy was identified as Christopher Johnson, a 27-year veteran of the department. He will have no contact with inmates while an investigation continues.
Desanti said she’s outraged by Johnson’s behavior. “His actions were egregious, and there was a crowd of at least 50 people, from lawyers, clerks,” said Desanti. “Even another judge saw what he did, and there was no stopping him.”
Gelin said, since Rios wasn’t being a danger to the deputy or others, there’s no justification for what he saw. “This is really barbaric, and I’m just extremely disappointed,” he said. “We all work together in the court system, particularly in the criminal justice system, and this just gives everybody a black eye.”
On Tuesday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel watched the video and spoke out about the incident, stating an internal affairs investigation will be comprehensive. “My only concern was that the deputy may have had other options and could have gone through a different course and gone a different way, but we’ll see where it goes once internal affairs gets it.”
As chief assistant public defender, Rios’ case falls under Desanti’s department. She said she wants more than an internal affairs investigation. “I think he should be arrested for what he did,” she said. “He committed a battery on her, and the same way that people have to go through the criminal system and defend themselves, he needs to defend his actions, and I plan to go forward to the sheriff. This gentleman does not deserve to wear a badge.”
Rios remains in jail without bond. Johnson is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.
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