UPDATED: The Franklin County deputy accused of spraying pepper mace on a pizza then offering it to four county jail inmates has resigned.
A disciplinary hearing in the incident had been scheduled for Thursday morning, Sheriff Gary Toelke said.
However, the deputy met with the sheriff Wednesday afternoon at which time he submitted his resignation.
Toelke said the deputy’s name will not be released.
“Deputies are allowed time, normally three days, to prepare for their hearing,” Toelke said. “They can submit a resignation notice during that time period if they chose to do so.”
A disciplinary hearing is scheduled later this week for a Franklin County detention officer accused of spraying pepper mace on a pizza, then giving the pizza to an inmate.
That prisoner shared the pizza with several other inmates and all suffered mouth and stomach “discomfort,” Sheriff Gary Toelke said.
One of those inmates was taken to Mercy Hospital Washington after complaining of stomach pains. He was treated and released back to jail personnel, the sheriff said.
Toelke noted in a prepared statement that an inquiry from The Missourian sparked the investigation. The Missourian was contacted by a relative of the inmate, Ricky Walton, about the incident and called the sheriff.
Toelke said the detention officer initially claimed he had been testing his pepper mace in a janitor’s closet Aug. 19 and accidentally sprayed some on the pizza. He said he placed the pizza on a desk and the inmate took it.
During an interview, the inmate said the deputy offered him the pizza, Toelke said.
The inmate’s version was corroborated by another deputy, he noted.
The detention officer was suspended with pay pending the disciplinary hearing. By law, an employee who is suspended must be paid until they are afforded due process, the sheriff noted. Missouri law also has established procedures for disciplining deputies, Toelke said. The sheriff has the final say on disciplinary action.
Pepper mace is used by law enforcement to subdue combative individuals, the sheriff noted.