LYNCHBURG, Va. – Two former jail guards have been indicted in the alleged beating of an inmate, according to the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.
An investigation was launched after authorities say three Blue Ridge Regional Jail guards — Navaron Hartman, Julius Tallant and one other guard, were taking Preston Burns, an inmate, to the hospital on May 9.
Warrants say Preston was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital to be medically cleared to go to Western State Mental Hospital in Staunton, Va.
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,” warrants show that multiple witnesses heard or saw the officers assaulting Burns.
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-ray.
According to Blue Ridge Regional Jail director Tim Trent, he knew about the alleged incident the day it supposedly happened and reported it to Lynchburg police.
Warrants reveal that during interviews with police, officers were told Burns’ injuries were justified based upon how they were trained.
Hartman and Tallant have been charged with one count of assault and battery in connection to Burns’ injuries. Trent confirmed that they are no longer employed at the jail, but could not say when their employment stopped. They’re both set to appear in court on Feb. 3.
The third guard involved in the investigation was not charged and still works at Blue Ridge Regional Jail, according to Trent.