Polk deputy dies after fight with inmate

September 9th, 2009 by

BARTOW - A Polk County Sheriff’s detention deputy has died from injuries he sustained in a fight with an unruly inmate.

Sergeant Ronnie Brown, 48, died this morning at Winter Haven hospital after having surgery for a fractured vertebra, according to the Polk Sheriff’s office.

The inmate that Brown was trying to restrain was 28-year-old Terrence Barnett, who was in jail on a first-degree murder charge.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Barnett was in solitary confinement, and broke a sprinkler. When Sgt. Brown and another deputy went in to restrain Barnett, Barnett pushed Brown, and Brown hit his head and fell to the floor.

“Barnett shoved and battered Sgt. Brown backwards, causing Sgt. Brown to strike the concrete wall and then fall to the floor injuring his back,” said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd.

Judd also said Barnett attacked and stabbed another deputy with an improvised shank. He said the deputies eventually threw pepper gas in Barnett’s cell to take control of the situation.

“Deputy Pitts was stabbed by Barnett during this time, causing minor injuries. Barnett was overcome by gas and gave up,” Judd said.

Both Brown and Barnett were taken to Lake Wales hospital.

Sgt. Brown was treated and released, but went back to the hospital the next day. This time, the sheriff’s office said he went to Winter Haven hospital where doctors diagnosed him with a fractured vertebra and did surgery. The sheriff’s office said Brown died after the surgery.

Brown began his career with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in 1989, and was promoted to Sergeant in 1997. He leaves behind his wife, Tina, who is also a detention deputy with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and a teenage daughter.

On Tuesday, the flag outside the sheriff’s office was flown at half staff, inside the sheriff’s office was filled with heavy hearts and pain.

Jail commander Jim Hogan said he knew Sgt. Brown well. He describes how Sgt. Brown’s wife Tina, who is also a Polk County detention deputy, broke the heartbreaking news to their 16-year-old daughter.

“To have to go and tell your daughter that her dad won’t be coming home is pretty rough,” Hogan said.

“Let’s never forget there are people in jail that are just animals,” Sheriff Judd said.

Sgt. Brown’s 20-year career with the sheriff’s office included many accolades and letters of recognition. In 2007, he and two other deputies received medals for saving the life of an unresponsive inmate. Sheriff Judd said Brown was known for his professionalism and excellent work ethic.

He called brown “a dedicated man who was respected by his supervisors and admired by his peers.”

Sgt. Brown is the first Polk detention deputy to die in the line of duty.

One Response

  1. Greg

    This is horrible! The people in this prison are animals and should not be allowed to exist. These are people who don’t care about anyone or anything. Not one time offenders, but out right murderers and rapists. I hate to see a story like this. These people work in this field for long hours and low pay. They do it to protect us from these crazed maniacs. I think they deserve more credit for the job they do!

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