ROBBINSVILLE, N.C. — Federal investigators are looking into a deputy’s repeated use of a stun gun on a handcuffed Graham County man who a judge already said had his constitutional rights violated.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports (http://avlne.ws/2d4ceD6) the Department of Justice and the FBI are investigating the case of Jack Slaughter, who the judge said suffers from permanent memory loss from the repeated and unnecessary shocks from a Taser in 2012.
In August, Superior Court Judge Bradley Letts ordered that a pending first-degree murder charge against Slaughter be dropped because he’s unable to assist with his own defense.
Two Asheville-based FBI agents visited the Graham County Sheriff’s Office the week of Sept. 26, collecting the department’s case files on Slaughter, a defunct Taser policy and the stun guns, Chief Deputy Jerry Crisp said.
The FBI agents told officers they were examining possible civil rights violations, Crisp said.
A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed that its Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have opened a civil rights investigation.
“I am pleased that, finally, someone is operating on, not necessarily on my behalf personally, but on behalf of anyone put in that situation,” Slaughter, who lives in Murphy. No one has contacted him about the investigation, he said.
Deputies detained Slaughter in 2012 on suspicion that he had stolen a vehicle. They took him to the Graham County jail where a video camera captured 56 minutes of a visibly dazed Slaughter in a small booking room, usually surrounded by several deputies, the newspaper reported.
More than a year later, Graham County deputies charged Slaughter with the murder of Robert Smith, who died April 5, 2012, the same day Slaughter had allegedly stolen a vehicle.
Slaughter’s criminal attorney, Victoria Jayne, said she thinks a criminal investigation about the deputies who injured Slaughter is warranted.
However, District Attorney Ashley Welch said the statute of limitations has run out on any charges because they would be misdemeanors. She said charges of felony assault, which have no statute of limitations, wouldn’t be winnable.
“A jury in Graham County is not going to convict anybody when a man who murdered somebody is your victim,” she said. “When we look at prosecuting a case, there are several things that go into play, and one of the things is, ‘Is it justice?’ The second is, ‘Are we going to be successful?’ At the end of the day — what happened to Jackie Slaughter is unacceptable — but he’s also gotten away with murder.”
Jayne said Slaughter didn’t dodge a murder charge and isn’t guilty.
“The same people that inflicted those injuries on Jackie also did the investigation, and our investigation reveals completely different suspects,” she said. “We have offered that information to the district attorney.”
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com