Video: County Jail Supervisor Uses Excessive Force on a Female Inmate

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Cleveland.com fought for and secured the release of body cam video showing county jail supervisor Brendan Johnson pepper spraying a female inmate in an incident of use of excessive force. It was one of two violent interactions with inmates that led the county to fire Johnson in August of last year. He has since won his job back through arbitration.

Cuyahoga County had previously declined to release video footage of the incident per their policy. A spokesperson told Scene last year "videos requested [from the county jail] are not public records subject to release as they constitute a record of security and infrastructure under R.C. §149.433 and R.C. 1306.23." The county has yet to release video of the second incident, from May of 2016. A summary of that interaction, from the county's HR department's letter of discipline to Johnson:



"Upon review of surveillance dated May 10, 2016 for another inmate who was placed in lockup, you responded to a backup call in which you gave instruction and directions to this inmate who appeared to comply. However in the midst of this inmate undressing you swept her legs from beneath her and abruptly and forcefully dropped her to the floor. You then deployed pepper foam to her facial area. Again, the inmate posed no threat to you prior to your actions."

The arbitrator found no excuse of Johnson's actions in that case but did find ameliorating circumstances for the incident captured in the video above.



He wrote that Johnson's decision to spray his pepper foam in the face of a woman when refused to tell him why she flooded the toilet in her cell on May 8, 2016 could be explained because she had acted out before, even though she did not pose a threat or actively resist any physical orders at the time.

Johnson also told the woman "I told you I'd get you," after he sprayed her.

The woman's "reputation proceeded her" in the jail, Stein wrote, and Johnson had had four run-ins with her earlier that day.

"The word compliant does not describe this inmate," Stein wrote. 
Cleveland.com had filed a complaint in the Ohio Court of Claims seeking both videos and plans to continue seeking the release of video capturing the second incident.

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