‘It’s just shocking’: Family reacts after video surfaces of Monroe County inmate being beaten by correctional officer


MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The circulation of a 2017 video taken inside the Monroe County Jail has prompted investigations from the 10th District Attorney’s office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The family of the inmate says seeing the video was shocking and they’re wanting more answers.

The video shows an inmate being verbally confronted by a correctional officer, then beaten by that same officer. Another CO who was in the cell during the altercation is shown covering the camera while the inmate is beaten.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s office released the following statement Friday, May 14:

On May 13, 2021, at around 3pm, a female subject who was visiting an inmate brought to Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones’ attention a video on social media, recorded in 2017.

“Upon viewing the video, I saw four Correctional Officers in the former Monroe County jail. One of the Officers was in a verbal altercation with an inmate, which escalated into a physical altercation, and one of the officers covered the camera,” stated Sheriff Jones. After viewing the video, Sheriff Jones contacted the District Attorney’s office to have them assess the video. He has requested a full investigation be conducted by the District Attorney’s office, TBI and FBI.

At this time, the Sheriff cannot comment further, due to this being an open investigation, but he did add that none of the officers in the video are currently employed at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Further information will be made available at the conclusion of the investigation.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

The TBI confirms they have received a request from District Attorney Steven Crump to investigate a use of force complaint.

The family has identified the inmate in the video as Steven Costner Jr. His sister, Chelsea Costner Cole, says she saw the video for the first time on May 13, 2021, but her brother told her about the incident in 2017 when it happened.

“We kept trying to get answers, you know talking to his lawyer, trying to talk to the guy who was over the jail at the time but we just weren’t getting nowhere. We had no proof,” Costner said.

Costner says seeing the video years after the incident brought feelings of anger and sadness.

“As soon as I saw the video, I literally jumped up started crying, could not breathe and I just started calling my mom,” Costner said.

Now she wants the public to keep circulating the video. She hopes that as more people see it, it will raise awareness to the incident, and hopefully lead to disciplinary action.

“I’m happy that people are watching it. It’s making the community outraged. If they’re going to do it to him, they’re going to do it to other people and they’re going to keep doing it. Unless somebody stops them,” Costner said.

Steven Costner Jr. is now serving 8 years in the Bledsoe County Prison for initiation of process to manufacture meth. He is up for parole on May 17.

Steven Costner Jr. (Photo: MCSO)

This is a developing story.

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