Florida corrections deputy arrested, fired after using pepper spray on inmate

VERO BEACH, Fla. — A Florida corrections deputy is accused of inappropriately using pepper spray on an inmate last month, authorities said.

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Keefe Roman, 39, was arrested Monday and charged with battery, according to Indian River County online booking records. He posted bail about an hour after his arrest, according to online booking records.

Roman was also fired from his job at the Indian River County Jail, Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said in a video posted on social media.

According to the sheriff’s office, Roman had a verbal exchange with 30-year-old Brandon Kormanec, an inmate in the jail, on Dec. 10, TCPalm reported.

According to an arrest affidavit, an investigation led by Deputy Sgt. John Curley found that the argument began about 2:15 p.m. when Kormanec was “disrespectful to the deputy.”

In his report, Curley said Roman took Kormanec out of a public pod area and put him in an isolated timeout. But instead of leaving, “Deputy Roman made the decision to stay inside the doorway and engage in further conversation with an agitated inmate.”

Surveillance camera footage showed Roman standing a few feet away from Kormanec when he removed a spray canister from his belt and sprayed the inmate, WPTV reported.

Roman told investigators that he sprayed Kormanec two more times because he did not believe the initial spray had been effective, the television station reported.

“At no time did it appear that the inmate was taking an aggressive stance,” Curley stated in his report. “This was not a warranted response to resistance, as the inmate complied” with Roman’s orders, according to the report.

Flowers fired Roman, who had been on administrative leave, on Tuesday, WPEC reported. Roman had been an employee at the jail since September 2020, TCPalm reported.

“Our deputies are tasked with the responsibility of using force in a judicious manner. I expect my team to use force, when necessary, in a manner consistent with our policies, the law, and the standard of reasonableness,” Flowers said in the video. “When that is done, I will support their actions. However, that was not the case here. This now-former employee did not meet the high standards of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.”

Kormanec, of Vero Beach, had been arrested Oct. 7 in Vero Beach on charges of burglary, battery, petty theft and a probation violation, TCPalm reported. He was released Jan. 2 after posting $17,500 bail, the website reported.

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