ASOTIN — A former Asotin County jailer is facing a fourth-degree assault charge for an alleged altercation with an inmate.
Tyler G. Kelly-Douglas, 39, is accused of losing control and grabbing inmate David Helm’s face during an argument in early May. Helm, 51, is currently in custody at Walla Walla.
Kelly-Douglas, who reportedly lives in Puyallup or Eatonville, Wash., has been summoned to appear in Asotin County District Court for an arraignment Feb. 16. Assistant Attorney General Jaime Taft is handling the prosecution on behalf of the state, and a Lewiston detective conducted an outside investigation.
According to court documents filed Wednesday, Kelly-Douglas went to Helm’s cell and the two got into a verbal argument, which escalated. The defendant reportedly removed his body camera, pointed it at Helm’s face, and said, “I, Deputy Douglas, will gladly allow inmate Helm to fight, if he wants to fight. No charges necessary.” Kelly-Douglas then turned the camera off.
At this point, Helm removed items from his pants, including two orange socks that each contained a bottle of fluid to make them impact weapons. When another deputy ordered Helm to drop the socks, he immediately complied, according to the probable cause affidavit.
During the incident, Kelly-Douglas allegedly put his hand in the inmate’s face and told him not to (mess) with him. The two men exchanged heated words, and Helm reportedly made a death threat, saying he was going to follow the jailer home.
The jailer quickly walked back into the holding cell, and another deputy tried to intervene. Kelly-Douglas allegedly shoved his co-worker with enough force to make him hit a wall. The defendant then grabbed Helm and told him if he ever threatened him or his family again, he would (mess) him up, according to court documents.
During a phone call with the jail commander that night, Kelly-Douglas reportedly admitted he lost control. “I shouldn’t have let that happen, I get it,” Kelly-Douglas said.
Challenging an inmate to a fight and advising him there would be no charges is contrary to Asotin County’s jail policy and correction officer training, according to the reports. There was no reason to “lay hands on a handcuffed inmate, unless the deputy is escorting the inmate somewhere,” an officer told the investigator.
Kelly-Douglas is no longer employed by Asotin County.
Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. District Court Judge Tina Kernan will preside over the arraignment and appoint an attorney for Kelly-Douglas next month.
Sandaine can be reached at email@example.com.