Durham County detention officers charged with assault

Anita Louise Alston and Rachel L. Smith (images courtesy Durham County Sheriff's Office)

The Durham County Sheriff's Office says two detention officers have been fired and are charged with assault after an internal review showed they used excessive force.

In a news release Monday, the department said the review showed the women "utilizing force which appeared to be beyond the amount reasonably necessary to restrain a detainee."

Anita Louise Alston and Rachel L. Smith are charged with simple assault and misdemeanor obstruction of justice.

Details surrounding the incident were not released, but ABC11 obtained arrest warrants Tuesday that stated the officers assaulted a woman by hitting her with "closed fists."

The warrants also stated Alston and Smith "willfully did obstruct justice by preventing, obstructing, impeding, or hindering a criminal investigation, namely, providing false information to investigators.

Both were charged with misdemeanor simple assault and obstruction of justice, and placed under a $5,000 bond.

"Detention Officers work in a very difficult and complex environment. Many times they work in a Pod and supervise 50 or more persons, some of whom are hostile and suffer from mental difficulties. It is important that detention officers follow Sheriff's Office guidelines when interacting with the inmate population. There is a process in place which leads to the review of any incident involving non-compliance with our policy and procedure. The men and women who are employed within the Detention Facility carry a great deal of professional responsibilities ensuring the safety of those we are in care of daily. With this particular incident policies were not followed," said Sheriff Mike Andrews in a statement.
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