Affidavit: Florida caretaker grabbed disabled man's throat, hit him in face; arrested on abuse charge

A Florida woman who worked with individuals with developmental disabilities is facing an abuse charge after she allegedly grabbed a patient's throat, shoved him, and hit him in the face multiple times – which was caught on surveillance video, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Chelsey Renee Payne, 30, of San Mateo, Florida, was arrested on Dec. 2, 2022, and booked into jail on a felony charge of abuse of a disabled adult, FCSO said in a news release. She has since been released from jail after posting bond, FCSO said.

According to FCSO, the incident happened on Nov. 21, 2022, at the Palm Coast Community Center in Palm Coast. At the time, Payne was employed by East Coast Habilitation Options, a group home agency. She was reportedly terminated over the alleged incident, according to the arrest affidavit.

According to the affidavit, a woman who worked at the facility noticed that another employee – unknown at the time, but later identified as Payne – appeared to need help with a patient, and asked her if she needed help. Payne reportedly said no, but pointed to the playground when asked if she there was another staff member who could help her.

A short video released by FCSO appears to show a snippet of the alleged incident. Deputies said in the affidavit that Payne appeared "irritated" in the video, and that she was attempting to get the patient's attention, as he was drinking from a water fountain.

In the video, according to the affidavit, Payne attempts to grab the man's arm, but he pushes it away. She then grabs him by the throat. The man, again, pushes her arm away, the affidavit states. In the seconds that follow, Payne is accused of grabbing the man's throat again, and of hitting him in the face with an open hand.

(Photo via Flagler County Jail)

It's not clear what happened prior to the surveillance video that was released.

FCSO said it was able to identify Payne used "advanced technology" and the assistance of its Real Time Crime Center. She was booked into the Putnam County jail, and transferred to the Flagler County Jail, where she was released on a $7,500 bond.

"This supposed ‘caretaker’ clearly did not show any care or compassion while she was abusing a disabled person," Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. "We send our deepest sympathies to the victim and their family. I commend our Major Case detectives for quickly solving this case with initially very little information to go on."

The extent of the man's injuries was also not immediately known.