Two officers fired after alleged jailhouse assault

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 13, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office has fired two officers in connection with an alleged jailhouse assault in May.
Sheriff Kevin Auten said the detention center officers were terminated after an internal investigation showed they were involved in an incident that left Ronald Link with a black eye.
Auten said Friday morning the terminations were not based on the use of excessive force, but he did not comment further.
The Sheriff’s Office did not respond to phone calls or e-mails later Friday.
Ronald Link said Friday morning he was “ecstatic” about the conclusion.
“That is an admission of guilt,” he said. “They were the ones involved, and they are no longer there.”
Link accused detention officer Rafael Pla of hitting him in the face in May.
Pla is one of the fired officers, he said.
Link was arrested May 19 after he said a combination of bipolar medication and alcohol sent him into a psychotic state.
Deputies were called to his home on Kelly Drive after Link said he thought his wife, Melissa, stabbed him.
The 39-year-old was charged with filing a false police report.
Link said he was placed in a restraint chair in an isolation room in the jail.
In his complaint, Link wrote that he told detention center officer Pla he needed to use the restroom.
Link said the officer told him to “p— in your pants.”
An argument ensued, and the officer then punched him in the face, he said.
“That’s why they call it a drunk tank,” Link said. “It’s obvious. Just shut the door and let me cuss. I’ll quit eventually.”
Authorities initially said Link spit at an officer.
Link, a convicted sex offender, was then charged with felony malicious conduct by a prisoner. The charge has since been dropped.
Link said he found out about the officers’ dismissal when he got a letter from the District Attorney’s Office last week saying the additional charge had been dropped.
According to the letter dated June 26, the charge was dismissed because “Detention officer Pla is no longer employed by RCSD and cannot be called as a witness.”
The charge of filing a false police report is still pending.
Another woman, Nancy Roach, also initially filed a complaint with the department, claiming she was punched in the face by an officer the following night.
She later withdrew the complaint.
In a brief conversation Friday morning, Auten said there will be increased training for officers and additional surveillance in the isolation room.
No further details were provided.