An argument and scuffle more than a week ago over an inmate’s backpack at the Hardin County Detention Center has led to the arrest of a jail employee on felony assault charges against a Hardin County sheriff’s deputy.
Witness statements obtained from Hardin County Jailer Danny Allen from the Feb. 8 altercation provide mixed stories when compared to an arrest citation about the altercation between booking officer Joseph Funk and Deputy Clennon Smith.
All eight witnesses to the 9:30 p.m. altercation said Smith punched Funk as many as five times in the face. According to an arrest citation as well as a statement from Funk, who has worked at the jail for nearly six years, the altercation started when Smith attempted to put an inmate’s property in a backpack through a booking cage window at the detention center.
A photo of Funk provided to media at a Wednesday afternoon news conference shows bruising around both of Funk’s eyes, a swollen bottom lip and some blood.
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Funk has been suspended with pay since Feb. 8. Smith remains on active duty for the sheriff’s department, Hardin County Sheriff John Ward said.
In a video released Wednesday, Smith can be seen placing a backpack in the window. When Funk got up from his seat, Smith pulled it back. Although the video carries no sound, the men appear to exchange words, Smith put the bag down and Funk left the booking area. Smith can be seen on video saying something to another detention center employee. When Funk approached him with his arms raised, Smith grabbed Funk by the neck and pushed him against a window.
The men then were separated.
About 11 seconds later, both men were released and Smith confronted Funk in a corner by the booking area. He can be seen on the jail video grabbing Funk’s left arm and then raising his left hand to Funk’s collar for a few seconds, pointing fingers from his right hand at Funk. The deputy then wrestled Funk to the floor, where he can be seen punching at Funk before other officers pull him away.
None of the statements were from Smith, but he filled out Funk’s arrest citation.
In a statement from Funk, he said when Smith confronted him in the corner of the room, he told him he was under arrest.
“The next thing I remember is Smith being in front of me telling me to turn around that I was under arrest which I was reluctant to do because I didn’t understand what I had done to warrant that,” he wrote.
Seven of the statements released by the jailer were from detention center employees. One was from Elizabethtown Police Officer Detrick Cooper.
According to the arrest citation, Funk was told several times to put his hands behind his back and he refused. When Smith approached Funk in the corner of the center, his hands were behind his back and then seconds later, the men became entangled on the floor.
The News-Enterprise filed an open records request Friday seeking video as well as an arrest citation of the incident. Arrest citations are routinely available, but jail staff declined to provide it when asked last week, saying they did not have access to it.
Allen said Funk was booked at the jail but provided no explanation as to why his name never appeared in the online jail log.
Funk is charged with third-degree felony assault of a probation/police officer, menacing and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to appear Friday in Hardin District Court.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Shane Young said his office has asked for a special prosecutor in the case.
Funk was rendered first aid at the center by two nurses, who both provided written statements.
According to a statement provided by Sgt. Damon Lasley, shift leader at the detention center, “Deputy Sheriff Smith advanced toward (Funk) telling him to put his hands behind his back. Funk said, ‘This isn’t right!’ I told Deputy Funk to comply so the situation would not be compounded. Funk kept his hands behind his back as Deputy Sheriff Smith pulled at Funk trying to turn him around. Deputy Sheriff Smith then grabbed Funk’s shirt collar, pulling him down and putting him in a headlock and taking Funk to the floor.”
Lasley further wrote, “Funk landed on top of Smith, who rolled Funk over to the floor and then began to punch Funk in the face 4 or 5 times.”
Allen called the event, “a very unfortunate incident that occurred.”
Allen said Funk was released to pre-trial after the incident and a $5,000 unsecured bond was posted. Allen said, “anyone in danger would not be put in a cell.”
Third-degree assault is a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison, if convicted.
Allen and Ward said at the news conference both entities always had a strong working relationship and they expect that will continue.