Police investigate brutality charges

Published 11:32 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NATCHEZ — A Saturday morning bar brawl has one family alleging police brutality and has prompted an internal investigation at the Natchez Police Department.

“We are doing an investigation to determine if officers acted properly in their actions,” Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said.

While Mullins said he has no reason to believe his officers acted improperly, one family disagrees.

Email newsletter signup

Jacob Ellard said he watched as his two brothers fought with police officers that were at Dimples bar for an unrelated fight.

Ellard said the incident began when he and several of his family members left Dimples after pepper spray was used to break up an unrelated fight inside they bar.

“It was hard to breathe in there so we went outside,” he said.

Jacob Ellard said he and some of the people in his party, including his brother Daniel, were standing on a corner near the bar waiting for their brother Jason, when an NPD officer approached his group and began yelling at his brother Daniel.

Ellard said when the officer, Elvis Prater, attempted to handcuff Daniel, Daniel punched him.

In Prater’s report he states that Daniel James Ellard punched him and the two began fighting after he attempted to arrest Daniel for refusing to leave the scene.

The report states that as Prater fought Daniel, Jason Ellard jumped on the officer’s back and began punching and choking him.

As he fought with both men on the ground, Prater called for help.

Natchez Police Sgt. Clarence Hayes, Natchez Police Officer Dewayne Johnson and Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Lee, who were all already at the original fight, arrived to help Prater.

Hayes’ report states he sprayed both Daniel and Jason with pepper spray but they continued to fight.

Deputy Lee then used his Taser on both subjects.

Natchez Police Officers do not carry Tasers.

Lee’s report said he first used the Taser on Daniel, then was charged by Jason, who was also tased.

According to Lee’s report Jason remained combative and was tased a second time.

While Jacob Ellard maintains his brother was not combative the second time he was tased, his account of what happened coincides with the officers’ accounts.

However, Jacob Ellard did say he believes Jason was trying to stop his brother Daniel from fighting Prater.

Jacob Ellard alleges that after his brothers were handcuffed they were taken to an unknown location near the Natchez Police station and beaten before they were brought to the police station.

Jacob Ellard said Jason, from his room at Natchez Regional Medical Center, told him it took the officers less then 30 seconds to drive to the police station after the beating.

“They had to be close by,” Jacob Ellard said.

Mullins said jail administrators determined Jason’s injures, a swollen eye and a bloody mouth, needed medical attention and would not let him be admitted into the jail.

“He was conscience and walking when he was brought to the jail,” Mullins said.

Mullins said while Daniel was jailed, Jason was driven to a local emergency room by NPD officers.

Mullins said the jail’s policy does not allow injured people to be booked into the jail until they have received medical treatment.

While Mullins said he did not know the extent of Jason’s injures, Lee’s report states that Lee was told by an officer that Jason’s jaw had been broken, but was not sure how.

Jason was moved to University Medical Center for additional medical attention Saturday afternoon.

Jacob Ellard said his brother needed a tracheotomy to help him breathe but was in stable condition Tuesday.

Jacob Ellard also said he has made the FBI aware of the situation.

However an FBI spokeswoman would not confirm or deny the agency was investigating the matter.

Mullins said Daniel was charged with public drunkenness, disobeying a law enforcement officer and assault.

Mullins said Jason will face assault and disorderly conduct charges once he is released from the hospital.

No parties involved in the incident have filed complaints with the Natchez Police Department, Mullins said.