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Georgia Sheriff's Deputy Fired After Pepper Spraying Inmate in County Jail

The incident involving Sgt. Charlesetta Hawkins took place in the same jail where Mathew Ajibade died after he was allegedly restrained last year.
Sgt. Charlesetta Hawkins
Sgt. Charlesetta HawkinsChatham County Sheriff's Office

A Georgia sheriff's deputy was fired and arrested Monday after she restrained and pepper-sprayed an inmate who spit in her face, authorities said.

Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Charlesetta Hawkins was charged with cruelty to an inmate after she was caught on video pepper spraying inmate Jonathan Mahone, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Sgt. Charlesetta HawkinsChatham County Sheriff's Office

Hawkins had punished Mahone for breaking an overhead sprinkler in his cell by placing him in a restraining chair "that was in full view of her superiors and the cameras," the statement said. When Hawkins tried to check on the inmate after he was in the chair for more than an hour, he spit in her face, according to the sheriff's office.

Hawkins responded by pepper spraying Mahone in the face twice, the sheriff's office said. She didn't wipe the spray from the inmate's face until after 15 minutes had passed, the statement added.

"She lost her cool," Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher told The Associated Press. "My understanding is she thought she'd done nothing wrong."

Jonathan MahoneChatham County Sheriff

Hawkins was released on $2,500 bond, sheriff's office spokesman Pete Nichols told NBC News.

Mahone, meanwhile, has been charged with destruction of government property. He was previously detained on aggravated assault charges, according to the AP.

Hawkins' arrest comes less than a month after Wilcher was sworn into office, following a special election in which he ran a campaign that promised in part to be stricter on inmate abuse.

Last year, Mathew Ajibade, 22, died after he was allegedly restrained and Tasered in the county jail. The young man's family said he was mentally ill.

Two deputies and a nurse were fired but acquitted of manslaughter charges, which were replaced with lesser charges, and seven other deputies were fired from the department for their involvement in the incident.