MCSO detention officer accused of assaulting inmates resignsPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX – A Maricopa County detention officer arrested for allegedly assaulting inmates at the Lower Buckeye Jail resigned on Wednesday.
Kevin Gerster, 31, and Alan Keesee, 32, worked in the psychiatric unit of the jail and are accused of felony aggravated assault against two inmates.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a press conference Monday afternoon that Gerster faces charges in three unrelated felony cases, two of which involve aggravated assault charges against inmates, as well as computer tampering and unauthorized access to criminal history.
“I personally watched these assaults on the jail recorded video and was very concerned by what I saw," Arpaio said. "Not only shall this person lose his job, we will aggressively pursue criminal action against him.”
The investigation started when officers told their supervisor about allegedly witnessing Gerster assaulting inmate William Hughes on Nov. 11.
Interim Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan said the video clearly shows Gerster walking up to Hughes, who was handcuffed and leaning over a table, and stepping on his neck for several seconds before punching him in the back and leg up to five times.
Detectives also reviewed security video from June 5 where Gerster is seen walking into a room and punching inmate Michael Flores in the jaw while he was restrained to a bed. Flores was released several days later and had to undergo surgery for a broken jaw.
It was also discovered by the Sheriff’s Office that Gerster allegedly used the jail’s classified computer system to obtain a home address of an inmate. He is accused of handing that information over to a friend whose ex-wife was dating the inmate.
Gerster’s friend allegedly used a box cutter to assault the man and his ex-wife and was arrested by Tempe police on Sept. 10.
Keesee is suspected of being involved in the assault against Hughes. Charges against him are pending. Security video showed Keesee slamming the inmate’s head against the table. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Gerster, who has been a detention officer since March 2008, made his initial court appearance Monday night and has posted a $36,000 secured appearance bond.
Gerster was originally placed on administrative leave, but on Thursday the Sheriff's Office said he resigned on Wednesday.
A status conference in Gerster's case has been scheduled for Dec. 6, followed by a preliminary hearing on Dec. 9.
This is not the first time in recent days that MCSO has had to arrest one of its own. Last week an MCSO officer was arrested for stealing money from a jail safe.