MONTICELLO — A corrections officer faces charges of battery for allegedly using a Taser on several separate occasions against two inmates inside the White County Jail.
Melanie Burns, 46, of Brookston, faces three counts of official misconduct — all Level 6 felonies — and three counts of battery resulting in bodily harm — all Class A misdemeanors — for using a Taser on multiple occasions throughout the jail against inmates Zachary Lovely and Eric Maxson.
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the Herald Journal, the incidents occurred between April 21 to May 29 of this year. Lovely told investigators that he was tased twice — once in a kitchen and once in the jails booking area, while Maxon was tased once in the booking area.
According to statements made by Lovely contained in the affidavit, Lovely told a corrections officer that he was “drive stunned” by Burns on May 29, adding that it wasn’t the first time it occurred.
A “drive stun” involves activating a Taser and placing it against an individual’s body and intended to cause pain without incapacitating the person on the receiving end.
According to court documents, investigators reviewed video footage from incidents on April 21, May 12 and May 29 involving Lovely and Maxson.
In the May 12 footage, the affidavit states Lovely was in the jail’s kitchen area, with Burns and Nancy Lingenfelter, a kitchen worker, and all appear to be talking with one another. The investigator noted that “it appeared that they were joking around.” As Lovely walks away, Burns follows him, pulls out her Taser and sticks it into Lovely’s left side for about seven seconds “while Lovely jumps and clinches during this event.”
In video footage from May 29, according to the affidavit, Lovely was being patted down by Corrections Officer Nigel Turner, who looks back, smiling, at Burns and steps away. Video then shows Burns pull out her Taser “while Turner continues smiling” and places it against Lovely’s buttocks area. The affidavit states Burns pulls the Taser off Lovely while it is still activated.
In video footage from April 21, court documents state investigators observed Maxson leaning against the ledge of the booking counter when Burns pulls out her Taser, walks around the counter and “sticks it to the right hip area of Maxson for approximately 37 seconds.
While Maxson is being stunned, the affidavit states that Officer Aiden Baker watches, walks over and holds on to Maxson’s arm. Burns then uses the Taser again for about one second and “Maxson jerks when he is Tased.”
During an interview with the inmates, investigators learned that around the first week of May, Maxson was drive stunned in the buttocks area by Burns, for about three seconds, during a medication pass. The affidavit quotes Maxson as saying “it hurt and it brought him to his toes.”
The charges were officially filed July 23.