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Cleveland Jail Guards Indicted For Assault, Excessive Force

Nick Castele
The Cuyahoga County Corrections Center in downtown Cleveland.

A special grand jury indicted five Cuyahoga County corrections officers Monday on civil rights and other charges. Attorney General Dave Yost’s office accuses the guards of mistreating jail inmates.

One of the guards is accused of failing to seek medical help for an inmate who later died of a drug overdose. Two pairs of guards are accused of physically assaulting inmates who were strapped down in restraint chairs.

The indictments come after a November report from the U.S. Marshals Service calling jail conditions “inhumane.” Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish invited the marshals to investigate after a string of deaths at in the jail system.

Yost’s office took over an investigation into county officials and the jail after Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley stepped aside earlier this year.

According to the indictment, corrections officer Martin Devring saw inmate Joseph Arquillo lying motionless on the floor last August but didn’t check on him.

Later that day, Arquillo was pronounced dead at a hospital. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office concluded that he died of an overdose of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs.

Devring has been charged with dereliction of duty and interfering with civil rights, both misdemeanors. Prosecutors also charged him with tampering with records, a felony.

The indictment accuses Devring of filing a report claiming that all had been found secure during rounds that morning and early afternoon. In fact, the indictment says, Arquillo could be seen “dying if not dead” in jail video.

Nicholas Evans and Timothy Dugan, two other corrections officers, are accused of strapping inmate Terrance Debose into a restraint chair and punching him into a concussion on March 22 of this year. The indictment also alleges that they left Debose in the chair for two hours rather than immediately getting him medical help.

Prosecutors charged them with felonious assault, unlawful restraint and interfering with civil rights. The latter two are misdemeanors.

Evans has also been charged with felony tampering with evidence. The indictment alleges that he turned off his body camera so that it would not record the beating.

The grand jury also indicted another pair of officers, Idris-Farid Clark and Robert Marsh. Clark is accused of pepper spraying inmate Chantelle Glass in the face while she was restrained in a chair July 16 last year. The indictment accuses Marsh of striking Glass in the head before Clark sprayed her.

Clark was charged with felonious assault and Marsh with misdemeanor assault. They both were charged with interfering with civil rights and unlawful restraint.  

All five officers are scheduled for arraignments on April 22.