Jennings jail officer charged with battery, official misconduct

NORTH VERNON — A Columbus man employed as a jail officer in Jennings County is facing a felony charge after being accused of inappropriately using a Taser on an inmate, the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department said.

The department announced the arrest of Chaz Coan, 24, in a post on its Facebook page Wednesday. The post said deputies “were made aware of an incident that took place in the Jennings County Jail involving a jail officer allegedly battering an inmate. … The incident was immediately reported to deputies by fellow jail officers and an investigation ensued.”

The inmate was not identified, nor was the date of the incident, and no further details about the incident were immediately available. Jennings County Chief Deputy Sheriff David Turner said no report information was expected to be publicly available until early next week.

The Facebook post said “The incident was not an act of aggression by (Coan), but rather a decision to use a Taser inappropriately. The inmate did not require medical attention.”

Coan was arrested on preliminary charges of Class B misdemeanor battery Level 6 felony official misconduct, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Jennings County Prosecutor Brian Belding did not immediately return messages seeking comment about the case.

“We have a responsibility to protect the inmates who are being held in the Jennings County Jail and any misconduct by any member of the staff will not be tolerated,” Sheriff Kenny Freeman said in the Facebook post. “Any such incident will be investigated, and we will move forward.”

The arrest comes just days after the Jennings County Prosecutor’s Office received an investigation report from the Indiana State Police concerning the death of an inmate at the jail in North Vernon in May.

Neither the Jennings County Prosecutor’s Office nor ISP Versailles District public information officer Sgt. Stephen Wheeles have publicly disclosed the report or commented on the jail death investigation.