Jail guards arrested in assault

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

Two Curry County Adult Detention Center officers have been charged with battering an inmate, according to court records.

Jeff Aikman, 29, and Bernie Woods, 37, were arrested late Friday on charges of aggravated battery, records show.

Sheriff’s deputies began investigating a complaint Thursday from 27-year-old Walter Dixon, who said he had been beaten by two guards at the jail the night before, a press release from the Curry County Sheriff’s Department said.

Other detention officers told investigators they saw Aikman and Woods slam Dixon violently against the wall at least three times as they moved him from one area to another inside the jail. Once in his cell, witnesses said he was slammed face-first into a steel bed, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Curry County Magistrate Court.

Witnesses told deputies Dixon cried out for help several times, the affidavit said.

Portions of the incident were captured on surveillance video, records show.

Deputies who interviewed Dixon on Friday noted he had bruising on his torso, wrists and ankles and swelling on his face and head, the affidavit said.

A detention officer who witnessed part of the incident said it began when Dixon spit in Woods’ face, the affidavit said.

Dixon, arrested Feb. 4 on a flight to avoid prosecution warrant from Arizona, is being held without bond.

Roxanne Dixon said she barely recognized her husband the day after the incident when she saw him in court.

“He just looked terrible, he didn’t even look like my husband,” she said.

“I felt really bad because I didn’t think anything like that would ever happen to him. I just don’t know why that day they did that — they really went off on him,” she said.

Her husband has sought psychological care at the jail since the incident, struggling with depression, she said.

If convicted, Woods and Aikman face up to a year in jail and or a $1,000 fine, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.

The officers were released on $1,000 bonds Friday after their arrests, jail officials said. Phone listings for Aikman and Woods could not be found.

Woods and Aikman were suspended with pay pending a personnel review, according to Curry County Manager Dick Smith, whose office oversees the detention center.

“I think it’s important for people to know — the types of behavior that are alleged here we don’t condone in any way and that’s why we asked for the investigation,” Smith said.