Jail Takedown Victim: "This Is Wrong"

Woman slammed to floor files lawsuit against former detention deputy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rhonda Wells, the woman slammed to the floor by a Dallas County jailer, is speaking out and suing the former jailer for $75,000 to recover medical and dental bills from injuries she received. (Published Wednesday, May 15, 2013)

    A drunken-driving suspect who slammed to a concrete floor by a Dallas County detention deputy says she is suing to recover her resulting dental and medical expenses.

    Security video from the Lew Sterrett Justice Center shows Rachel Graham slamming a handcuffed Rhonda Wells to the ground while booking her into the jail on July 2, 2011.

    "This is wrong, what she's done to me, and I'm still having a lot of pain and anxiety," Wells said.

    The video shows Wells stepping over a red line on the floor to peer over Graham's shoulder while the deputy sorted through the contents of Wells' purse. Wells steps back behind the line, and Graham turns to use a leg sweep takedown maneuver on Wells.

    Wells said the takedown came without warning. She was briefly unconscious after the fall, she said.

    "I didn't really, I think, know what had happened until I seen all the blood and, of course, my teeth were slammed together, so I was spitting pieces of teeth out," Wells said. "So I knew that there was a lot of damage and the pain was incredible -- more pain than I've ever felt in my whole life."

    Graham was fired and pleaded guilty in March to official oppression. She was sentenced to one year of deferred adjudication with a $1,200 fine.

    Wells received nothing from the criminal case. Her lawsuit seeks $75,000 from Graham, the sole defendant named in the lawsuit.

    "She needs to pay," said Scott Palmer, Wells' attorney. "Even if it takes her 10 or 15 years to pay, she needs to pay."

    Graham is the sole defendant named in the lawsuit. The county should not be held responsible because her actions were against jail policy for handling a handcuffed prisoner, he said.

    "This is a huge deviation from what she was taught and trained to do," Palmer said.

    No one answered the door at Graham's last known address, and a message left on the door Wednesday was not returned.

    Graham's attorney in the criminal case, George Milner, said he is not representing her in the civil lawsuit.

    But Milner said Wells' arrest on suspicion of crashing into a liquor store is bound to come out in the lawsuit.

    Palmer and Wells declined to answer any questions Wednesday about the drunken-driving charge, which has not yet been resolved in court.