LONOKE, Ark. – Surveillance footage from 2019 inside the Lonoke County Jail shows what one woman says is the sheriff attacking her son.
It’s a 20-second moment but Lisa Gant says she’ll never forget.
Gant says her son, 28-year-old Christopher Sallings was in the Lonoke County Jail back in 2019 on marijuana and DUI charges.
She says it all happened in the overnight hours when inmates staged a fight to steal medicine.
“They broke one of the kiosks and giving each other face tattoos and some of the guys ended up in the girls cells,” Gant said.
Gant said that’s when Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley arrived and had the inmates line up.
Surveillance video shows Staley hit Gants son. After a brief exchange, Staley grabs her son with one hand and then two.
“It was very upsetting,” Gant said. “I couldn’t believe that the sheriff in the county I pay taxes did that to my child.”
Staley, currently running for re-election, in a written statement, defended his actions.
“We were in the process of searching potentially dangerous prisoners suspected of having an improvised knife,” Staley wrote, “This prisoner was being loud and abusive and when he flinched toward me, I slammed my open hand into his upper chest/clavicle area.”
Gant said she called the sheriff the next day, after the incident and allegedly admitted to ‘thumping’ her son.
“He called me a b**** and told me that women like me were the reason my son was running up and down the road robbing and stealing,” Gant recalled.
The video shows Staley putting both his hands around Sallings’ upper body for about six seconds.
“He snapped his head back in response and continued to be aggressive so I grabbed him by the shirt and leaned into him,” Staley wrote.
Gant said her son, currently in jail out of state, has never been the same.
“He was doing really well until this incident and then things just went straight downhill for him,” Gant said.
Gant said she called law enforcement and the FBI to investigate this after it happened but she never heard anything back.
A spokesperson for FBI Little Rock said Thursday night that it does not discuss information shared with them by members of the public or by any source.
Agents acknowledged it is aware of the video but they cannot confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Staley said he released the video after the incident.
“Dealing with potentially dangerous prisoners who may be hiding a weapon is a rough business,” Staley wrote. “I released this video publicly years ago and there were never any credible allegations of wrongdoing and the news media ignored it. But, years later — at election time — it’s suddenly newsworthy. People know a last-minute smear when they see it.”