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Jail officers could be charged after Lynchburg inmate allegedly attacked earlier this year

Police say Preston Burns had injuries to his face and neck.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Three Lynchburg Jail officers are under investigation on suspicion of assaulting an inmate earlier this year.

The trio could be facing assault and battery charges, a misdemeanor in the commonwealth.

It all started at midnight May 9 at Lynchburg General Hospital's emergency room, according to search warrants.

The three officers, Cory Hancock, Navaron Hartman and Julius Tallant, were transporting Preston Burns, an inmate, to the hospital.

Warrants say Preston was there to be medically cleared to go to Western State Mental Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. 

Burns was seen on video entering the hospital in an "uninjured state," but while he was in the hospital room with the "curtains partially closed,"  multiple witnesses heard or saw the officers assaulting Burns, according to the warrants.

Investigators say the Bedford man was wearing handcuffs, a waist belt and was secured at his leg.

Police said Burns had injuries to his face and neck. He had to see a forensic nurse and undergo an X-rayed.

Jail director Tim Trent wouldn't talk about the incident because it's an ongoing investigation but said he knew about the alleged incident the day it was said to have occurred and reported it to Lynchburg police. 

Trent maintains that Burns was not beaten but that "something occurred to cause use of force."

Whether or not it was excessive use of force is up to commonwealth to determine, according to Trent.

During the officers' interviews, they told police Burns' injuries were justified based upon how they were trained, according to the warrants.

The commonwealth is reviewing the case 10 News received a comment from Bethany Harrison confirming the investigation.

She said, "I can confirm that there is an ongoing investigation about the conduct of 3 corrections officers with the Blue Ridge Regional Jail that involved someone who was an inmate at the time of the conduct.   I cannot comment further and refer you to the Blue Ridge Regional Jail for the employment status of the corrections officers."

Lynchburg General Hospital officials also released a statement saying in part, "We are cooperating fully with law enforcement on their investigation and will continue to do so. We consider ourselves community partners with law enforcement and take the safety of our patients very seriously."

Trent would not tell 10 News the correction officers current employment statuses.