VERO BEACH, Fla. — An Indian River County Sheriff's Office corrections deputy has been arrested and fired after he "inappropriately used pepper spray on an inmate," Sheriff Eric Flowers said.
Flowers announced the arrest and termination of Keefe Roman in a social media message released Wednesday.
The incident occurred Dec. 10 during a verbal exchange between Roman, 39, and the inmate.
According to an affidavit, the man was being disrespectful to Roman, who then ordered the inmate to sit on a bench inside a room at the jail and remain in "timeout."
Instead of "correcting the potential disruptive situation" by leaving the room, Roman instead remained in the doorway and continued to engage with the inmate.
Investigators said the inmate never appeared to "take an aggressive stance, ball up his fists or reposition himself to advance toward Roman."
It was during their repeated exchange that Roman used his pepper spray on the inmate, who "remained seated with his hands in his lap and his back to Roman."
Investigators said Roman told them he sprayed the inmate twice more because he didn't believe the initial spray had been effective.
Roman was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor battery charge and fired the next morning.
“Our deputies are tasked with the responsibility of using force in a judicious manner," Flowers said in a statement. "I expect my team to use force, when necessary, in a manner consistent with our policies, the law and the standard of reasonableness. When that is done, I will support their actions. However, that was not the case here. This now-former employee did not meet the high standards of the Indian River County Sheriff's Office."