Deputies Injured in Fight With Bethany College Student
By MATT SAXTON
BETHANY — A Brooke County sheriff’s deputy came away from a “full-out fight” with a broken nose, fractured sinus, busted glasses and a lot of bumps and bruises, but she also said it could have been a lot worse.
Kristen Richmond was one of two deputies who was injured when the sheriff’s office responded to a call for a man bleeding and throwing things out of a third floor window at a Bethany College dormitory early Friday morning. Later that night, she took to social media and identified herself to tell her side of the story, while the sheriff’s office and the college also issued official statements about the events. The other officers involved in the incident were not identified.
“While fighting with this guy, he reached for my duty weapon,” Richmond said in a post she wrote on Facebook that had been shared more than 82,000 times by Saturday evening. “Given the circumstances (full details are not being disclosed in this post), deadly force was warranted and it was probably getting close to my last resort. Thankfully, it did not reach that point.”
In a statement written by Capt. Darin Pizer, the sheriff’s office said it responded to the disturbance at 2:43 a.m. Friday. When Richmond arrived, she said she found Brandon Lamar Jackson, of Decatur, Georgia, bleeding and not wearing any clothing. The statement said the deputy tried to approach Jackson to ask him what happened, but Jackson had a blank stare, was having trouble speaking and appeared to be hallucinating, Pizer said in the statement.
“The deputy attempted to detain the subject, who pulled away, attempted to strike the deputy in the face then began to flee on foot,” Pizer wrote. “The deputy then began to pursue after the subject.
A K-9 was deployed, the subject then curled up in a corner of the exterior of one of the buildings.”
In her post, Richmond — who is the handler to K-9 Officer Dakota — said, “… all the K-9 bites, punches, knees and baton strikes did not deter this guy.” She was able to get one of his arms in handcuffs, but he pulled away again, the statement said.
Richmond also said her communication with other deputies had been cut off, leaving her to fight Jackson, who she described as 5 feet, 11 inches tall and a “collegiate male athlete,” alone for about five minutes.
“The subject was told he was under arrest, he then began to strike the deputy in the head and face numerous times as the struggle ensued,” according to the statement.
Then, Pizer said the deputy deployed her dog again as two other deputies arrived. Jackson allegedly then bit one of the other officers and fought until the team finally got him in handcuffs.
Jackson and the injured deputies were treated at Weirton Medical Center. The deputies were released, while Jackson was transferred to a hospital in Pittsburgh, the sheriff’s office said.
When reached by phone Saturday afternoon, a deputy in the sheriff’s office said Sheriff Larry C. Palmer Jr. was on vacation. Calls to his cell phone were not returned by press time. Richmond also did not respond to a Facebook Message request for additional comments by press time. It was unclear if the sheriff’s office had filed any charges against Jackson or if he remained hospitalized Saturday.
Meanwhile, the college issued a formal statement late Saturday afternoon about the event.
“The administration at Bethany College deeply regrets the events of early Friday morning, July 27, stemming from the conduct of one of our students,” wrote Bob Oltmanns, the college’s director of communications. “Our first concern is for the safety of everyone who lives, works and visits on our campus and we have a zero tolerance policy regarding behavior that threatens public safety.
“We want to reassure our entire campus community that Bethany College is a safe and secure campus and that the student involved will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with our student code of conduct,” Oltmanns said. “We appreciate the efforts of local law enforcement for their assistance in this matter and send our best wishes to the responding officers for a quick recovery from the injuries they sustained.”
Reached by phone, Oltmanns also said no one else at Bethany was injured during the event. He said Jackson is a student employee at the school, and that it would be premature for him to guess what kind of discipline Jackson might receive.
Meanwhile, Richmond said she wasn’t posting to Facebook for “the glory,” but rather as a call to other officers to be prepared for situations like the one she encountered Friday morning.
“I took my bloody uniform, duty belt and gear inside with me and dropped it on the floor,” Richmond wrote. “I took my tired K-9 partner to her crate so she could get some much deserved rest. I went upstairs, undressed, turned on the hot water in the shower, stepped in and washed his and my blood off my body. I watched it circle the drain not knowing whose exactly it was. Not a lot of people know what it’s like to do that.
“No, we don’t get into fights like these everyday but they do happen … along with situations that are far worse,” the deputy wrote. “Please take a few moments to consider everything that we go through before jumping to conclusions based off slanted media and facts. At the end of the day, we are exactly like all of you ‘normal’ people. We just want to go home after work.”