Published: Friday, April 13, 2007 | 11:26 AM ET
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - A jail guard has been suspended after allegedly thumping an inmate with a Bible.
James Lee Sheppard, 56, has been charged with two gross misdemeanors for allegedly swatting a Blue Earth County Jail inmate with the book, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him against steel bars on Feb. 8, according to the criminal complaint.
A video shows a guard entering the cell of inmate Jeremy Hansen, 26. The guard then takes Hansen's Bible and strikes him in the side of the face with the book. The two exchange words as the guard walks away, said Mankato Police Officer Allen Schmidt who watched the video.
The rest of the confrontation was not captured on video because of an object obstructing the camera. But the complaint states that Sheppard walked back toward Hansen, grabbed him and pushed him into the cell bars.
Dennis McCoy, Blue Earth County administrator, said Sheppard was the first to report the confrontation. "He knew he violated policy and, to his credit, he turned himself in," McCoy said.
Sheppard declined to comment to The Associated Press. He referred calls to St. Paul attorney Brent LaSalle, who said Thursday that he had not been retained by Sheppard and so couldn't speak on the guard's behalf.
Sheppard, who was not jailed, is on leave pending further investigation. He is scheduled to appear in Brown County court April 26 on charges of mistreatment of an inmate and misconduct by a public officer.