Video has emerged of a corrections officer shooting an inmate suffering from mental health problems through a cell door at point-blank range.
Matthew Trevino was having a schizophrenic episode when Cpl Robert Haas fired a Nova flashbang round at him using a 12-gauge shotgun at Pasco County Jail in Florida during August 2015.
Footage of the incident captured by another deputy is now likely to form part of a civil rights lawsuit filed against the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office by the 29-year-old veteran.
Trevino had been booked into the cell earlier that day on a probation violation, according to local television station Fox 13.
However, the situation escalated when he refused to put his hands through a slot in the front of the door to be handcuffed by officers who wanted to search his room for contraband.
Instead, Trevino exposed his genitals to deputies and began shouting incoherently.
It was then, according to multiple reports filed by officers involved in the incident, the inmate took a step backwards and Cpl Haas “saw a window of opportunity” to fire the round at him.
But, video of the altercation shows Trevino was in fact standing right up against the door when the officer discharged his shotgun.
"He was right up against the door. Completely unnecessary," Trevino's attorney, Mark Rankin said.
"There's no reason, at this point, that they have to force their way into the cell. This is not an emergency situation.
“There's certainly no reason they have to use this level of force."
The manufacturer of the non-lethal round, Lightfield Ammunition, says its Nova rounds are “intended as an indirect fire diversionary load”.
It adds: “It should never be fired directly at persons or pets. Muzzle blast is similar to a hand thrown NFDD [flash grenade] and can cause injury or death.”
Sheriff Chris Nocco told Fox 13 the round had been fired because “A criminal with a violent history in the jail failed to comply with lawful directions.”
Trevino had no previous convictions for violent crimes.
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