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Inmate faces assault charge

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A man whose altercation with a Stafford County deputy four years ago ended the officer’s career and received nationwide attention from autism advocates has picked up yet another felony charge, this time for an incident involving a correctional officer.

Reginald Cornelius “Neli” Latson, 22, is charged with assault on a law-enforcement officer. The charge stems from an incident in the Rappahannock Regional Jail and was certified to a grand jury following a preliminary hearing Friday in Stafford General District Court.

It is the third time in four years that Latson has been accused of assaulting a law-enforcement officer.

The most serious incident occurred on May 24, 2010, when Latson got into a confrontation with Deputy Tom Calverly outside North Stafford High School.

There had been a report of a man with a gun in the area when Calverly saw Latson coming out of the woods onto school property. As Calverly was trying to identify Latson, he was slammed to the pavement, punched in the head and sprayed with his own pepper spray.

Calverly suffered severe ankle injuries and was forced to retire, ending a 30-year career.

A jury later recommended a 10½-year prison term for Latson, but a judge only ordered him to serve a year. A number of people came to Stafford to argue that Latson needed treatment for his autism, not a lengthy prison term.

Latson was living in a group home in Winchester last August when he got into a scuffle with a deputy there. He was convicted of assaulting a police officer and attempting to disarm a police officer but was released on time served.

He was then brought back to Stafford and charged with a probation violation. This time, he was ordered to serve another year and was serving that sentence when he picked up his latest charge on April 24.

According to the evidence presented by Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen, Latson was placed on suicide watch and was being escorted by three officers from one area of the jail to another.

As one of the officers was instructing Latson to put his hands on the wall, according to testimony, Latson replied, “don’t [expletive] talk to me that way.”

He later added, “I will rock your ass. I will rock your punk ass,” and punched the officer three times in the head.

A Taser was used on Latson to get him under control, according to the evidence.

As is customary in preliminary hearings, the defense put on no evidence.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404 

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