“The Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun an investigation of this matter,” said Richmond Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Thorne-Begland. “We have forwarded over our file to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.”
Dee Rybiski, an FBI spokeswoman, said the misdemeanor assault case against the former Richmond deputy, Jermaine Dove, was referred by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia to the FBI as an alleged civil-rights violation.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, confirmed that the case had been referred to the FBI but declined to comment further and would not discuss the scope of the investigation.
Cary Bowen, a veteran defense attorney who tries federal cases, said the fact that the federal authorities are pursuing an assault case such as this one suggests they might be seeking to see if the incident is part of a pattern at the City Jail.
“Is there a pattern of abuse by deputies at the Richmond City Jail?” Bowen said. “Sometimes the federal authorities take up a civil rights case because they’re concerned that there’s a pattern. And perhaps this is one of those times because there have been other allegations arising out of the jail.”
There have been several situations in the past year that called into question the conduct of some employees or former employees of the Sheriff’s Office, particularly those who work in the city Jail.
In October, two Richmond deputies were indicted on one count each of having carnal knowledge of separate female inmates at the City Jail. Those cases are pending in Richmond Circuit Court.
In September, a Richmond jury returned a $2.4 million verdict against Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr. and the jail’s former chief physician in a wrongful-death case involving a prisoner at the City Jail.
Woody also drew criticism for hiring 12 of his relatives since he was elected in 2005.
And Woody fired one employee and suspended another in October after a prisoner was accidentally released from the jail in September. Soon after the inmate’s release, he robbed the same bank a second time, authorities said.
On Thursday, Judge David Eugene Cheek Sr. of Richmond General District Court withdrew the misdemeanor assault charge against Dove at the request of a Richmond prosecutor.
Dove was accused of assaulting inmate Marquan Lamont Pollard at the jail on Nov. 29.
According to a statement released last month by the Sheriff’s Office, an argument erupted in a jail housing unit between Dove and the prisoner. Dove removed the inmate from his housing unit without an order to do so, which is a violation of jail policy, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Outside the housing unit, the argument turned physical when Dove allegedly struck the inmate with his hand, according to sheriff’s officials. No serious medical attention was needed for either Dove or Pollard, the officials said.
Woody fired Dove as a result of an internal investigation.
Dove and his defense attorney declined to comment after Thursday’s hearing.