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Three Hancock Co. Community Corrections officers disciplined over 'profanity laced' voicemail

Man’s attorney calls recording 'shocking, appalling, disgusting'
Profanity-laced voicemail
Posted at 11:36 AM, May 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 07:41:37-04

WARNING: The story below contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

HANCOCK COUNTY — Three Hancock County Community Corrections employees have been disciplined after they were captured on a profanity laced voicemail badmouthing a Cumberland man under their supervision at the time.

Ja'Michael Bryant, 21, filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the Hancock County Board of Commissioners and the Community Corrections officers on the voicemail alleging racial discrimination and violation of his civil rights.

Bryant was several months into serving home detention for dealing marijuana when he got a voicemail from Community Corrections.

In the three-minute recording, three Community Corrections workers are heard talking to each other about Bryant.

They refer to Bryant as a “lazy motherf**ker,” a “b**ch,” a “little thuggy,” and discuss “going to go get in his ass.”

The voicemail also references Bryant moving out of “the hood” and talks about his current home as “too nice.”

Three employees received a written reprimand— Dan Devoy, Tom Smith and Nicole Raffaelli, according to Community Corrections Executive Director Wade Kennedy.

Community Corrections is an alternative to prison and jail where offenders can serve out their sentence on work release or home detention.

Currently in Indiana, more than 11,000 offenders are a part of a Community Corrections program.

In November 2022, Ja’Michael Bryant was convicted of dealing marijuana and sentenced to a year and a half on Hancock County Community Corrections Home Detention.

Bryant works with his mom at a nonprofit helping the elderly and had been serving his home detention sentence at his mother’s house in Cumberland.

“He has a baby on the way, he had been doing great,” said Shontae Davidson, Bryant’s mother. “I hold my kids accountable for their actions. He was wrong. He shouldn't have been speeding or riding with marijuana."

Davidson says Hancock County Community Corrections was unprofessional from the start, and that one of the employees cussed at Bryant and threatened he would go to jail or prison.

“Ja’Michael was compliant,” said Davidson. “He went to his drug tests, and never missed an appointment. It hurt my soul to hear my son be so scared that he may not be able to see his son born knowing that this around the time he’s supposed to get off house arrest and knowing he was very compliant.”

Davidson says she complained to a Community Corrections supervisor but did not hear anything back.

She told Bryant’s attorney, Kevin Potts.

“He said he wasn't being treated fairly,” said Potts. “There were undertones of racism with regard to how they were treating him."

But they could not prove any mistreatment.

That is until April 19.

Bryant says he was in the shower just after 9 am when Hancock County Community Corrections left the three-minute voicemail on his phone.

The officers were talking about where Bryant lives.

THE FOLLOWING ARE TRANSCRIPTION EXCERPTS FROM THE RECORDING

And I’m running him. I’m like you lazy motherf**ker you haven’t left your house.
Right.
And that’s pissing me off. So, I want to go see his ass.
Yeah.
Wake him the f**k up.
He…Well, is he at his house?
Yeah, he's there right now.
You have to see. Wait until you see this house.
Is it?
It looks…
It looks nice.
Oh, really.
Look at this, look at this neighborhood. Look at this neighborhood.
No, they moved.
And…And…
Remember, remember Nicole…
Yeah.
When we moved him out of the hood.
Let me see here.
When we moved him out of the hood.
Oh, yeah.
Look at that, look at that f**king house.
Yeah.
That's too nice a (Inaudible).
And he's got water in the backyard. F**k this motherf**ker

"He sounds angry that Ja’Michael lives on a lake in a nice house,” said Davidson. “It makes my skin crawl. It makes my stomach flip upside down."

The officers also talk about Ja’Michael Bryant’s work with his mom, helping the elderly.

“It made me really sad to hear it,” said Davidson. “I initially started crying. As a mother, you want to protect your kids at all costs.”

Bryant’s attorney, Kevin Potts, said the voicemail surprised him as well.

“My first reaction was shock,” said Potts. “I’d never heard anything even remotely close to that before.”

Potts described the voicemail as “shocking, appalling, disgusting.”

THE FOLLOWING ARE TRANSCRIPTION EXCERPTS FROM THE RECORDING

Little thuggy.
Little motherf**ker.
Little thuggy
Yeah, so he pissed me off. So, I want to go get in his ass.
Is he, he…Wonder why he's not at work. I said I don't know. Where does he work at even?
He works for his mother. And…
Oh, he's a janitor or something isn't he.
Actually, he picks up stuff for a house that has a bunch of people…Because his mother runs a daycare for adults that are unable to take care of themselves. So, she hires him. He goes picks up…
He's her b**ch.
He'll go to Taco Bell. Pick up all the Taco Bell. Because every day they want to get something different to eat.
He probably lays in bed until mom calls him and says hey…
Yep. Time to go to work.
I need you to go to Walgreens and pick up diapers for this guy that’s here.
He doesn't go to work (Inaudible) leave around…I want to say 10 o'clock.
He's got it made then.
Yeah, f**k this guy.
F**k this guy.
That f**king pisses me off.
F**k this guy.
You want to run over there and see this b**ch real quick?
Um hm.
It's not that far.

 Shontae Davidson said minutes later, two of the Community Corrections officers on the recording showed up at her house.

"They had no business being in my home that day,” said Davidson. “They said he didn't answer the phone, I said ‘well he's in the shower.’ He came around the corner with his towel on, soaking wet.”

Davidson said the officers told her Bryant has to answer the phone every time they call.

“He's on house arrest,” said Davidson. “You can see where he's at. There was no point."

Ja’Michael Bryant said he’s had trouble sleeping since the incident.

“I was surprised and at the same time scared,” said Bryant. “I've definitely had a couple nightmares where the police come in and putting guns on telling us to get out. Just scared."

Bryant also fears retaliation for speaking out about the voicemail.

You can hear the full voicemail in the video player below.
WARNING: The audio below contains explicit language which may be offensive to some viewers.

Hancock Co. Corrections voicemail

“I’m just scared they might end up coming after me,” said Bryant. “I don’t know why they hate me that much.”

Bryant’s attorney, Kevin Potts of Indianapolis, said the voicemail showed racial discrimination against his client.

“To me i felt like he was specifically targeted,” said Potts. “I believe he was targeted based on the color of his skin.”

Potts contacted Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton.

"I listened to it, and very quickly it was obvious that wasn't something i could defend in court,” Eaton told WRTV. “I was mad and frustrated when I listened to the recording. The public would expect the justice system be administered in a fair and honest way, with respect and professionalism."

Eaton and Potts filed a motion to modify Jamichael Bryant’s sentence citing, “issues regarding Hancock County Community Corrections' conduct and supervision of Defendant."

On April 27, a Hancock County judge granted the motion.

“It was appropriate to get him out of Hancock County,” said Potts. “No one deserves this type of treatment. Community Corrections programs are designed for one purpose—rehabilitation. How can you possibly rehabilitate someone back in our community when you don’t treat them like a human being?”

Ja’Michael Bryant no longer has to serve home detention under the supervision of Hancock County Community Corrections.

Instead, he will serve a year probation supervised by Marion County.

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said the actions of the Community Corrections officers impact the entire justice system.

“When we have something like this, it makes that job harder and more dangerous,” said Eaton. “It’s going to make the job of everyone in the justice system more difficult.”

In an email to WRTV, Community Corrections Executive Director Wade Kennedy said three of his employees received a formal written reprimand—Dan Devoy, Tom Smith and Nicole Raffaelli.

“I can confirm that those are in fact the names on the voicemail,” said Kennedy in an email to WRTV. “Those individuals have each received a formal written reprimand. These reprimands were written by myself, the Executive Director.”

Devoy had been working for Hancock County since 2000 and retired on May 1, just two weeks after Bryant received the voicemail.

A Hancock County human resources representatives said Devoy is now working part time for the jail.

  • Dan Devoy – Hire Date: 5/1/2000;  Retirement date – 5/1/2023; He is working part time for the Jail as of 5/2/2023
  • Tom Smith – Hire Date: 4/3/2023
  • Nicole Raffaelli – Hire Date: 11/28/2005

WRTV Investigates also emailed the three employees about the voicemail and we are still waiting to hear back.
WRTV Investigates had more questions for Kennedy, so we stopped by the Hancock County Community Corrections building.

The person who answered the door told WRTV’s Kara Kenney that Wade Kennedy was out to lunch.

Hancock County Commissioners investigated the incident, but took no additional action.

On May 17, they provided the following statement to WRTV, in which they criticized the “lack of professionalism” in the “profanity laced discussion.”

HANCOCK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS FULL STATEMENT

“The Hancock County Board of Commissioners has conducted an investigation of the conversation among three Hancock County Community Correction's employees concerning Mr. Jamichael Bryant.  On behalf of Hancock County, The Board is extremely disappointed with, and does not condone the absolute lack of professionalism and thoughtlessness demonstrated by the employees in this profanity laced discussion of Mr. Bryant. Accordingly, the Director of Community Corrections has disciplined the employees pursuant to Hancock County Policy with a Letter of Reprimand for all three employees.  This behavior is the antithesis of what is expected of all County employees, and is unacceptable under any circumstances.”  

Ja’Michael Bryant hired civil attorney Terrance Kinnard and filed a federal lawsuit Friday alleging discrimination that, "is the product of a deep-rooted culture of racism accepted by the Hancock County Community Corrections agency."

The lawsuit says Bryant suffered emotional distress and humiliation as a result of the county's civil rights violations.

Bryant is seeking actual and compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney's fees and litigation costs and expenses.

The federal lawsuit also outlines a "relentless campaign of harassment" by Community Corrections, including accusing Bryant of intentionally damaging his ankle monitor, forbidding him from working on specific days, and accusing Bryant of providing false pay records.

The federal lawsuit criticized Hancock County for keeping Devoy, Smith and Raffaelli employed.

"By failing to remove these individuals from their respective positions of authority—or apparently to even discipline them for clearly racial ideology— Hancock County has expressly condoned their racist behavior," read the lawsuit.

Bryant said while he’s afraid of retaliation, he wants people to know what happened.

“So no one else has to deal with it,’ said Bryant. “Hopefully not."

Bryant, his mother and his attorney want the Community Corrections employees heard on the voicemail fired.

"I am in no way saying he shouldn't be held accountable for his actions — I’m saying he should be treated fairly,” said Davidson. “That he be treated as a human being, not degraded because of the color of his skin."

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