Former Polk deputies charged with assault in tasing incident

Published 9:58 am Thursday, March 12, 2009

Both Twitty and Denton served under former Polk County Sheriff Chris Abril, but were not rehired when newly appointed sheriff Donald Hill took over at the end of last year.

Hill said he was unaware of the incident prior to being alerted by SBI, and he said he was cooperating with the state investigation.

After learning about the charges Wednesday, Howard said she was outraged that the former deputies only received misdemeanor charges. She says she believes they should have received felony charges. Howard said she planned to complain to the state.

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The tasing incident occurred on October 28 while Howard was at Elmos Pub & Grill in Tryon. She says she mistakenly thought the woman working behind the bar was an ex-friend who owed her money. She admits she had a couple of drinks and stole the tip jar. Tryon police were called to the bar to investigate and Howard was arrested. The sheriff&squo;s office was later called in to assist.

She admits she accidentally kicked a Tryon officer and broke&bsp; a window out of Tryon&squo;s police car with the handcuffs while tapping on the window for her friend.

Howard said she was tasered twice by Tryon officers, but many more times by Denton and Twitty while she was on the ground. Howard was then taken to the sheriff&squo;s office where she says she was tased again, this time while handcuffed to a chair.

Howard was taken from Polk County to Raleigh to undergo a mental evaluation. She says she spent 23 days in Raleigh and at no time under Polk County&squo;s watch was she given the opportunity for bond.

On Nov. 19, Howard pleaded guilty to assault on a government official. The charges of larceny and injury to personal property were consolidated into the assault charge and she was sentenced to one year supervised probation, restitution of $208 and court costs. Once the restitution is paid, Howard&squo;s sentence will decrease to unsupervised probation.

Howard says someone anonymously contacted the district attorney&squo;s office about the tasing incident, not her. She previously said she plans to sue the county over the incident.