Dallas Woman Files Lawsuit After Excessive Force in Jail

By Ben Russell
|  Tuesday, May 14, 2013  |  Updated 11:53 PM CDT
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Surveillance video shows the handcuffed woman, 47-year-old Rhonda Wells of Dallas, being processed into the jail while the detention officer, Rachel Graham - who is named as the sole defendant in the lawsuit - is itemizing the belongings of Wells' purse.

Ben Russell, NBC 5 News

Surveillance video shows the handcuffed woman, 47-year-old Rhonda Wells of Dallas, being processed into the jail while the detention officer, Rachel Graham - who is named as the sole defendant in the lawsuit - is itemizing the belongings of Wells' purse.

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A federal lawsuit filed in Dallas on Tuesday says a former Dallas County detention officer used excessive force when she slammed a handcuffed woman to the ground.

The incident, from July 2011, was captured on security video inside the Lew Sterrett Jail as the handcuffed woman was booked on a DWI charge.

The video shows the handcuffed woman, 47-year-old Rhonda Wells of Dallas, being processed into the jail while the detention officer, Rachel Graham - who is named as the sole defendant in the lawsuit - is itemizing the belongings of Wells' purse.
 
Wells can be seen in the video swaying back and forth and, at least twice, stepping off of a line that it appears Graham has instructed her to stand on. 
 
At one point in the video, while Graham is going through the purse, Wells leans forward and then steps across and over the large red line.
 
It is at that point when Graham grabs Wells by her arms, which are handcuffed behind her, pulls her back behind the red line and, using her legs, trips Wells to the floor where she lands face first.
 
According to the lawsuit, the force of the slam to the ground knocked Wells unconscious, caused head and face trauma, bleeding and shattered and broken teeth.
 
The detention officer, Rachel Graham, 26, has since lost her job with Dallas County. Court records indicate she pleaded guilty to official oppression, a misdemeanor, and was ordered to pay a $1,200 fine and serve one year of community supervision.
 
Wells' attorney is seeking at least $75,000 in damages from Graham to help cover medical and dental bills, distress, pain and suffering and lost wages.

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