COLUMBIA -- A former Kershaw County sheriff's deputy was sentenced Monday to more than five years in prison for violating an inmate's civil rights when he broke the man's leg in an attack caught on jailhouse surveillance cameras.
Eschewing the 10-year maximum as too harsh for the crime, U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie sentenced Oddie Tribble, 51, to five years and three months in prison for the beating of jail inmate Charles Shelley. Tribble, who will remain free on bail until he is ordered to report to federal prison, also is required to pay Shelley more than $5,100 in restitution for his medical bills.
The law enforcement and military veteran was fired in August after surveillance video from the Kershaw County jail, about 35 miles northeast of Columbia, surfaced showing him striking Shelley 27 times, breaking the handcuffed man's leg. Tribble, who had been a deputy for 12 years, and another guard on duty were fired.
During his February trial, Tribble testified he hit Shelley because the inmate was drunk, belligerent and had made threats against the officer's wife and daughter during the ride from the traffic checkpoint where he was arrested to the jail. But Currie said she was not swayed by that argument, saying she didn't feel Tribble was in danger.
Supported in court by several family members, Tribble apologized to them and to Shelley.
"I'm sorry to Mr. Charles Shelley for what took place," Tribble said, his voice trembling slightly. "I'm sorry to my family for having them here today for what I'm going through at this time."
In addition to being fired, Tribble also has lost his state retirement funding, his attorneys said Monday.
During Monday's hearing, prosecutors for the first time also revealed a previous incident in which Tribble was accused of taking similar action against a handcuffed man. While working security at the Carolina Cup in Camden in 2008, prosecutors said Tribble hit a drunken detainee, restrained at the wrists and legs, with the same type of baton used on Shelley.
The man's wrist was broken, but he opted not to press charges, and local prosecutors did not pursue the case, Currie said.
"I can only wish that it had been investigated by SLED," Currie said, adding that a thorough probe and charges might have deterred Tribble from acting against Shelley. "I wish that at least some sort of counseling or further training had been provided so the officer would know you can't do this."
Currie said she would recommend that Tribble be placed in a prison in South Carolina, although she said officials may recommend that he be placed in a special unit intended to keep former law officers safe from retaliation inside prison.