Incident probed by federal agency

By Peter H. Milliken


The FBI is investigating possible civil-rights violations in an Aug. 1 physical altercation between a deputy sheriff and a county-jail inmate in the prisoner holding area in the Mahoning County Courthouse basement.

Sheriff Randall Wellington said Tuesday that his department has turned over to the federal agency the probe of the altercation between Deputy William Horn and inmate Duniek Christian that was caught on video.

Horn, who had been on paid administrative leave earlier in the investigation, officially was placed on desk duty in the sheriff’s records room beginning Monday, but is now on sick leave, the sheriff said.

No discipline has been imposed on Horn as the department awaits the outcome of the FBI investigation, Wellington added.

Deputy Kip Danks, who was seen briefly on the video opening and closing the door to the prisoner holding area, has been exonerated and has returned to regular duty at the courthouse, Wellington said.

Christian, 28, said he was changing from the civilian clothing he wore for his jury trial back to a jail jumpsuit when Horn assaulted him and repeatedly punched him.

Horn contends he was defending himself after Christian assaulted him.

Wellington declined to comment on details of the investigation.

The jury convicted Christian of failure to comply with a police order, and Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court sentenced him to three years in prison.

In another case, Christian made local news in 2005 when he was accused of being involved in a rolling gunbattle with Youngstown police.

He awaits retrial in that case after a jury acquitted him of charges related to shooting at police, but was “unable to decide” whether he was guilty of complicity with three other men shooting assault rifles at the seven police officers.

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