By Sharae Myers / Staff Writer
A Whitley County Detention Center employee was cited with second-degree unlawful imprisonment after he refused to allow a Whitley County Sheriff’s deputy to leave the jail, according to court documents and Whitley County Jailer Ken Mobley.
According to the citation and a criminal complaint signed by Deputy Cody Harrell, Jail Supervisor Donald L. McElroy was cited Saturday after he refused multiple requests by Cody Harrell to open a door so that the deputy could leave the jail.
Mobley said the citation was issued after McElroy refused to accept a man — Johnny Satterfield — who was one of three people arrested for public intoxication and brought to the jail by Cody Harrell, who is Sheriff Colan Harrell’s son, and Ken Shepherd.
Cody Harrell and Ken Shepherd brought the three people to the jail about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Mobley said. McElroy was in the process of booking the three people when he noted that Satterfield was too intoxicated to answer any questions.
Mobley said McElroy reported that Satterfield could not keep his eyes open and kept sliding down the wall of the booking room. McElroy advised Cody Harrell and Ken Shepherd that Satterfield would have to be taken to the hospital to be cleared medically for his own safety before he could be booked into the jail.
According to Mobley, McElroy said that Deputy Cody Harrell contacted his supervisor, Deputy Shawn Jackson, who then contacted Sheriff Colan Harrell. Mobley said Sheriff Colan Harrell called a judge for a verbal order so Satterfield could be cited and released.
After the judge issued the verbal order, Mobley said that Cody Harrell wrote the citation against Satterfield. Cody Harrell then tried to leave the jail without Satterfield.
At the time, Cody Harrell had pulled his police cruiser inside the detention center where inmates are typically processed. In order to leave the area, an automatic door must be opened.
According to the criminal complaint, McElroy “refused to allow Deputy Harrell to leave after several requests. The defendant (McElroy) informed Deputy Harrell he was not leaving the jail with the prisoner.”
Mobley said that Deputy Cody Harrell placed Satterfield in his police cruiser and the automatic door was opened, allowing Cody Harrell to exit the building.
Once outside the building, Mobley said Cody Harrell stopped his vehicle and removed Satterfield from the car.
In a series of video surveillance segments Mobley provided to the Times-Tribune, Satterfield is seen during the booking process as well as being allowed to exit Deputy Cody Harrell’s cruiser. Deputy Cody Harrell then climbed back into his cruiser and drove away. Satterfield is seen wandering back in and out of the detention center’s door, which remained open.
At some point, Mobley said several deputy jailers went outside to try to find Satterfield to check on his safety, but could not find him.
Mobley said that McElroy was following jail policy, as well as state law, when he refused to book Satterfield into the jail. Mobley said state law indicates that if a person needs emergency medical attention, the arresting officer is responsible for obtaining medical attention for the person prior to delivery to the jail.
“The officer driving off and leaving jeopardized the life of the boy,” said Mobley.
Mobley said about 11:30 p.m., sheriff’s deputies along with two Williamsburg Police Department officers arrived at the jail to serve McElroy with the arrest citation.
Mobley said McElroy has to appear in Whitley County District Court at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10. Mobley said he and a representative from the Kentucky Department of Corrections will be in court with McElroy.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said his department was asked to assist with the delivery of the citation by Whitley Sheriff Colan Harrell.
Bird said in the past his department has had problems with the Whitley Detention Center refusing prisoners.
“Which I understand they have that right, but one of my officers made an arrest on a violation of a domestic violence order and he (the prisoner) had a previous injury that had been medically treated and released. The prisoner was refused for medical reasons,” Bird said.
“About four to six months ago, I met with Mobley and there has not been any issues with refusal of prisoners,” Bird said, adding that he has instructed his officers to arrest any jail employee who refuses to allow his officers to leave the jail.
“I have instructed my officers that any time they are refused to exit the detention center, they are to immediately arrest whoever makes the order,” Bird said. “They (the jail employees) are to be arrested on charges of unlawful imprisonment of a police officer.”
Bird said he usually has two officers on duty at a time and if one officer is detained for hours trying to get a prisoner booked, it leaves his other officer without back up.
Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell said, “You can’t restrict an officer’s movement. You have no right unless they are a prisoner there.”
Colan Harrell said that it wasn’t Cody Harrell’s duty to take the prisoner with him once a summons had been issued.
Harrell said, “When an officer is detained by the jail or anyone else, I will take action. Period.”