Jailer Goes To Jail For Punching Mentally Ill Inmate

Lasswon Shannon
Lasswon Shannon
Harris County Jail

A Houston Police Department jailer is now sitting in jail after punching a mentally ill inmate in the face several times and then lying to his fellow colleagues about what happened.

On June 10, surveillance footage showed Lasswon Shannon placing the inmate, Akrem Azzam, in a padded solitary cell, according to criminal records. He shut the door, but then saw Azzam try to spit on him. And so Shannon opened the door and punched Azzam three or four times until he fell backwards onto the ground. Azzam was left with a busted lip and “several red scratches on his face, neck and upper body,” an investigator wrote in the complaint.

Shannon, 28, was immediately relieved of duties and put on leave. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and will spend five days in jail, a year on probation, and pay a $300 fine.

Both HPD and the Civil Rights Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office investigated the assault and discovered that Shannon was lying about the incident because of surveillance footage. After the incident, Shannon had told a police sergeant that Azzam had spit on his face and he felt like he needed to “control the situation” (after Azzam was already locked up by himself in a padded room, remember). Then he said he never punched Azzam at all, but just pinned him against the wall with his forearm before taking him to the ground.

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“This case illustrates the importance of having a video when complaints are made against law enforcement officials,” Julian Ramirez, chief of the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “We could not have proven this particular case without the video to disprove the justification given by the jailer.”

As a condition of his probation, Shannon will participate in the “Sheriff's Weekend Work Program,” where he will do manual labor “predominantly outside in the elements... YOU WILL GET DIRTY AND POSSIBLY WET,” the instructions say.

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