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3 corrections officers arrested

Three corrections officers at the Lawrence County Jail have been arrested following an investigation into alleged inappropriate treatment of an inmate.

According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, Ronald S. Hatfield, 25, Jeremy S. Hanshaw, 36, and Jason Mays, 22, were arrested Thursday.

Hatfield and Hanshaw were charged with felonious assault, a second-degree felony. Mays was charged with tampering with evidence, a felony of the third-degree.

The charges stem from an investigation prompted by allegations the three corrections officers were involved in possible misconduct of an inmate.

According to the release, a jail employee came forward with the information on Aug. 19, three days after the suspected incident occurred.

Sheriff Jeff Lawless said in the release he ordered an investigation into the allegations, and on Aug. 20, detectives concluded the three officers had been involved in “the inappropriate treatment” of an inmate who had been booked in the facility on a charge of disorderly conduct.

By the time of the investigation, the inmate had been released and an attempt to locate him by detectives was unsuccessful.

“On Aug. 21, detectives provided me with a statement from an eyewitness concerning the event in question along with other collaborating evidence that led me to believe that a possible crime had been committed,” Lawless said in the release. “On the same day, my detectives and I met with prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson and presented our findings for his review. Mr. Anderson agreed that the investigation into possible criminal activity needed to continue.”

On the same day, Mays was fired, while Hatfield and Hanshaw were placed on paid administrative leave as required by their union bargaining unit agreement.

Both Hatfield and Hanshaw were hired as corrections officers in June 2013. Mays had only been employed at the jail since June of this year.

On Aug. 22, detectives located the alleged victim and obtained a statement.

Thursday, detectives met with the prosecutor’s office and went over all the evidence collected, at which point warrants were issued for the three officers.

“I was provided with what I believe is evidence of wrongdoing,” Lawless said. “I acted quickly, firing one employee and suspending two others, this, even before the possible victim could be found. I took an oath to uphold the law and protect all citizens. I am not sure this man would have ever returned to complain and I could have sat on it and possibly saved a ‘black eye’ on the agency but the person I am would not allow me to do that.”

The three officers were arraigned in Ironton Municipal Court Thursday afternoon.

Cash bonds of $50,000 were set for Hatfield and Hanshaw. Mays was given a $40,000 bond.

Hatfield hired attorney Scott Evans, while attorney information for the other two officers was not yet available.

The three are expected to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 4.

The officers were booked in the county jail but were expected to be transferred to the Morrow County Jail unless they bonded out.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be added.

“I will not tolerate wrongdoing,” Lawless said. “I saw things that disturb me. We conducted an investigation and gathered evidence and presented it to the prosecutor’s office. When it comes to excessive force, I will not tolerate that.”