Florida Deputy Who Poked and Slapped Wheelchair-user Jail Inmate Fired

A Florida deputy caught on camera hitting a wheelchair-user inmate last year has been terminated from his position following a review, officials have confirmed.

Deputy Aaron Hull, 46, was officially let go last Thursday after a review board concluded he used excessive force on 24-year old inmate Taylor Schuessler. The incident took place inside the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater on September 24 last year, a police release said.

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According to the cops, Hull was "verbally challenged" by the inmate in a housing unit that was in lockdown at the time. Schuessler reportedly ignored the deputy's requests to stop.

The situation escalated quickly, based on video footage of the altercation released last week. Hull was captured kicking a chair, approaching Schuessler and grabbing him by the neck. The deputy poked him in the face repeatedly, with the inmate responding by spitting in his face, the clip showed. Hull was then recorded striking Schuessler three times with an open hand.

"He knew what he should have done but it seems like he got mad and couldn't control his anger," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, said in a media briefing Friday, Fox News reported. "All inmates have a right to be treated humanely," he added.

Describing how the situation evolved, the local police department said in its release that Hull had "maintained physical contact with the inmate in his wheelchair" after the slapping.

"[Hull] grasped him around his torso until the inmate de-escalated his resistance," officials explained, adding: "During the course of the Investigation, Deputy Hull admitted that he reacted inappropriately. He admitted poking the inmate in the head was inappropriate contact."

Neither deputy Hull nor Schuessler were seriously injured, it was determined. Schuessler, of Clearwater, was released from the Pinellas County Jail on November 16 last year.

Investigators said the now-fired deputy was previously involved in a similar incident in 2015. At the time, he was disciplined for flipping a table and entering a jail inmate housing unit.

According to Fox News, Hull conceded to the review board during the probe that he should have handled the situation in a less aggressive manner. "I should have stopped," he said.

"Once I first approached him and talked to him, instead of poking him in the head or continuing to argue with him, I should have...put him in the side pocket and been done with it, but I didn't." Despite his regrets, officials ruled he violated sheriff policy.