A Lake County corrections officer claims the county discriminated against him because of his race when it demoted him after an inmate was injured and later died.
According to the complaint, the officer was a sergeant on Halloween 2011 when a drunk, belligerent man was arrested and detained at the facility. When a scuffle broke out, officers performed a “takedown move” on the man that caused spinal damage and paralysis. Jailhouse video shows officers dragging the injured man through the facility despite his cries that he could not move his legs. Prison officials also denied the man medical care.
The inmate died six months later as a result of the injuries. The county paid a $2 million settlement.
The former sergeant claims that the county demoted him to corrections officer despite his minimal involvement in the incident. He also notes that the initial investigation resulted in only two officers being disciplined, himself and another black officer. Later, the county fired a white officer but the complaint alleges this was done “to give the impression that a non-African-American command officer had also been disciplined.”
The former sergeant's lawsuit cites his virtually unblemished record of 27 years of service on the job. The demotion, he claims, has contributed to his health problems including high blood pressure and a stroke.
County officials vowed to “very aggressively” defend the suit, claiming the plaintiff is seeking to “relinquish his accountability” for the incident.