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Former inmate denies she disobeyed deputy's order in 2006 Hillsborough jail abuse case

TAMPA — A former female inmate at the Hillsborough County jail "never, ever" disobeyed a lawful order from a deputy she claims grabbed her by the hair and slammed her to the floor, her lawyer said Wednesday in federal court.

"Even if she refused to get up and go to a holding cell, that still makes the use of force unreasonable," said Virlyn B. Moore III, attorney for Marcella Pourmoghani, 42, who is suing Sheriff David Gee and Deputy Shanna Marsh, alleging excessive use of force at the Orient Road Jail.

Moore tried to cast doubt on surveillance video that captured the Nov. 11, 2006, altercation between Pourmoghani and Marsh. He questioned why the recording had no audio.

Sheriff's Office attorney Jason Gordillo wants U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Jenkins to dismiss the lawsuit.

"The video shows what happens," Gordillo said. "The plaintiff's testimony is so far from it."

Video recorders at the jail do not collect audio, Gordillo said. That means a jury would have to rely on the word of Pourmoghani, who denies being given a command, or Marsh, who says Pourmoghani ignored repeated orders.

Jenkins said she intends to review the evidence, then decide whether to toss out the complaint or send it to trial.

"I'm going to take these matters under advisement, and I will issue an order as soon as I can," Jenkins said.

The Sheriff's Office has stood by Marsh, clearing her of wrongdoing. Her supervisors have said she stayed at or below acceptable guidelines for dealing with an insubordinate inmate.

A tape of the incident showed Marsh talking to Pourmoghani, Then, Pourmoghani puts her leg up on a chair, and Marsh grabs her first at the wrist, then upper shoulder before pulling her to the floor. Pourmoghani appears to wrap her arms around the deputy's leg, and Marsh strikes her on the back several times before other deputies offer assistance.

Pourmoghani received treatment at Tampa General Hospital, where a CAT scan found no damage, Gordillo said.

But Pourmoghani has complained that the incident exacerbated an existing seizure condition. She also said in her lawsuit that she suffered brain damage.

The Sheriff's Office said a doctor concluded that Pourmoghani's medical condition may have been agitated by her history of drug use.

Kevin Graham can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Former inmate denies she disobeyed deputy's order in 2006 Hillsborough jail abuse case 11/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009 12:10am]
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