A Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy was fired Thursday for hitting a wheelchair-bound inmate, including repeatedly poking the man in the head.
Aaron Hull, 46, who had been with the department nearly 13 years, poked Taylor Schuessler, who is confined to a wheelchair, repeatedly in the head after the inmate disobeyed multiple orders during a lockdown, sheriff’s officials said.
“I realized I could have handled things a little differently, definitely better,” Hull told investigators.
Hull was talking with a group of disruptive inmates during a lockdown in a housing unit Sept. 24, 2018, when Schuessler, 24, verbally challenged the deputy and the other inmates, sheriff’s officials said.
Schuessler, 24, refused to stop his behavior when Hull told him to. Hull then aggressively kicked over his own chair before approaching Schuessler.
Video showed Hull holding Schuessler’s neck while poking him in the head with his right index finger. Hull then grabbed Schuessler’s shirt and started a verbal exchange inches from the inmate’s face.
Schuessler responded by spitting in Hull’s face. Hull reacted by hitting Schuessler three times in the face. Hull called for backup and started to move Schuessler to another part of the jail. While moving Schuessler, the inmate tried hitting Hull with his elbows, fist and head, officials said.
Hull held Schuessler by his torso until he stopped resisting, officials said. Schuessler and Hull were not injured in the incident.
During an internal investigation, Hull admitted to acting inappropriately and losing his patience.
“I messed up, but I will take my lumps,” he said.
This was not the first time Hull used force with an inmate. In 2015, the deputy was given a written reprimand after he flipped over a table in an attempt to gain an inmate’s attention.