Pinellas County correctional officer Patrick Knight was arrested Monday on charges of battery and official misconduct for using excessive force on an inmate. Officials say that Knight slapped, punched and pulled out a clump of of the victim's hair before lying about it. Knight would have probably gotten away with it had it not been for a superior officer doing his job and a fellow officer ratting him out. Officer Jameson Jessie originally told supervisors a version of events similar to Knight's, but changed his story after Lt. Priscilla Campbell noticed inconsistencies between Knight's story and the physical evidence.
According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO), inmate Terrell Johnson was yelling and kicking a cell door because his handcuffs were too tight. Officers Knight and Jessie entered the cell. Knight then pushed Johnson to the floor "without provocation," Johnson's head hit a cement bunk as he fell, Knight grabbed Johnson by the hair so hard that he pulled a chunk of hair out, pinned him to a wall, slapped him in the face, and punched him. The encounter left Johnson with a laceration above his left eye. Knight filed an incident report with Lt. Campbell in which he mentioned pulling Johnson's hair, but did not mention slapping or punching him. Knight also falsely accused Johnson of trying to kick him in order to justify pushing Johnson to the floor. Lt. Campbell became suspicious when Knight reported that Johnson suffered injuries to the back of his head as well as the laceration on the front of his head. Knight's explanation did not explain how Johnson could have suffered injuries to both the front and back of his head. Officer Jessie initially told Lt. Campbell a story similar to Knight's, but recanted a few hours later.
We don't know why Jessie recanted his story. Usually correctional officers stick together in scenarios like this so that they don't get in trouble. Supervising officers are usually in it as well, so whenever a guard accuses an inmate of something and there is no video to support the inmate's version of events, then the supervisor sides with the guard. That is often the case even when the guard's version of events fails to explain the physical evidence. After that the rest of the department and the DA's office stick by the official story of a sworn officer unless they are shown incontrovertible proof that it is not accurate. Usually the only way to obtain enough proof for a department or DA to take action you need incontrovertible video evidence. It is like instant replay in football for which you need incontrovertible video evidence to overturn the call on the field. Even expert medical evidence can be considered insufficient to compel action. This author knows this all too well having obtained what is so far an unrebutted expert witness report proving that stories told by correctional officers could not physically explain injuries I sustained in an Oregon jail. The report was good enough to get me a plea offer of time served when I was facing years in prison based on false accusations of battery fabricated by deputies in an effort to justify breaking my arm. To this date the sheriff and local prosecutors stand by the official story of the deputies involved and I have a lawsuit pending in federal court. While in the federal system I witnessed countless cases of guards abusing inmates and nothing was ever done about it.
According to public records, Patrick Buchanan Knight is a 51 year old resident of Trinity, Florida. He is a registered Republican with no prior criminal record. We are not sure if he was named after former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Buchanan). Pat Buchanan was still working as an aid for Richard Nixon when Knight was born, so we doubt that some lady would have named her son after a White House aid unless she knew him.