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Video of Lee deputies pepper-spraying inmate excluded from investigation

Jul. 2, 2010


State officials never saw video of deputies pepper spraying inmate Nicholas Christie eight times over two days before deciding not to prosecute the deputies for their role in Christie's death.

Video used in the state attorney's investigation shows Christie minutes prior to and hours after deputies sprayed Christie, but no video shows the spraying taking place.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office said the pepper spraying incidents happened in a secure area where monitoring cameras are located, but they do not record.

Spokesman Larry King said the jail has monitors in certain areas, such as near the cells, but the footage is not recorded. In other portions of the jail, newer equipment records the footage digitally, he said.

Even the video recorded is imperfect. At one point as medical staff prepared to transport Christie to the hospital, the video freezes for about 11 minutes.

In the video showing Christie minutes before first being sprayed, Christie is acting unusual but not threatening. He is seen swaying and looking confused. He is then led into a room where, according to the incident timeline, he is sprayed for the first time.

State attorney spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said investigators asked the sheriff's office several times if they had turned over all the video. The sheriff's office said it had.

The medical examiner's office determined Christie, 62, from Girard, Ohio, died of cardiac arrest and stress brought on by the restraint and pepper spray.

Christie was arrested March 27 for trespassing. In the two-day incarceration, deputies pepper sprayed him directly eight times, and twice they sprayed inmates in his cell. Christie spent two days in jail before being transported to the hospital, where he died two days later.

A federal investigation is ongoing.

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