Leaked Video Of Captain Pepper-Spraying Restrained Inmate Riles Maine Officials [View all]
Over the weekend the Portland Press Herald reported on and released a video of Capt. Shawn Welch at the Maine Correction Center pepper-spraying a restrained inmate in the face and leaving him in distress for more than twenty minutes while he repeatedly pleaded that he could not breath. The inmate was reportedly recovering from a self-inflicted wound and on several medications for bipolar disorder and depression at the time when officers in protective gear placed him in a restraining chair for medical personnel to examine his wounds.
After he was physically restrained in the chair, he struggled as guards pinned his head under an arm, at which point Welch used a pepper spray canister intended for multiple subjects at a 18 to 20 feet range to spray the inmate in the face at close range. Welch was initially fired by the institution’s supervisor, but reinstated with a 30-day suspension by Maine Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte.
Spurred by the leaked video, the Chairman of the Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is now seeking a review of the incident in the context of use of force by the Maine Department of Corrections – but the Maine Department of Corrections appears more concerned about finding the source of the leak. Citing the privacy of the inmate, they launched an investigation to find out who released the video to reporters, with Associate Commissioner Jody Breton saying the facility “certainly will be tightening up security — where (information) is stored, who has access.”
Judy Garvey of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition told the Portland Press Herald she believes the department has their priorities wrong: