Jurors deliberated less than 10 hours over two days before finding a Palm Beach sheriff's corrections deputy not guilty of federal charges he violated jail inmates' rights and falsified a record to obstruct an FBI investigation.
William D. Wheeler, 46, was acquitted of three charges after a two-week trial in federal court in West Palm Beach.
"We are very grateful for the jury's verdict and Deputy Wheeler is very happy to put this behind him and hopefully get back to work at the Sheriff's Office as soon as possible," said Assistant Federal Public Defender Peter Birch, Wheeler's lawyer.
Phone messages left for Wheeler were not immediately returned.
Wheeler has been on administrative leave without pay since he was indicted in February. The corrections deputy was receiving a salary of $88,980 a year when he was removed from his position.
Wheeler was accused of using excessive force against two inmates, Joreel Sine and Jermaine Smith, in September and October 2013 while they were locked up in the Palm Beach Sheriff's jail system.
Smith, 22, is serving 10 years in state prison for carjacking, records show. Sine's whereabouts were unclear.Federal prosecutors did not call either of the inmates to testify in Wheeler's trial but security video of both incidents was shown to the jury, according to court records.
Wheeler testified in his defense that he used an appropriate level of force to prevent one inmate from spitting at him and that he did not cause the other inmate to bang his head against a door.
UPDATE -- I've been informed that the PDs also had two other wins this month: Bob Adler got a NG in a mortgage fraud case and Fletcher Peacock got one in a gun case.