These scumbag prison officials who so abuse their power MUST be prosecuted! READ
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Cuyahoga County Jail medical supervisor’s whistleblower lawsuit filed late Tuesday against Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish offers the clearest account of what happened at the jail in the days and months before a string of inmate deaths.
It also raises a previously undisclosed allegation that jail officials covered up the violent beating of an inmate at the hands of a corrections officer.
Former Interim Director of Ambulatory Care Gary Brack’s lawsuit says his firing at Budish’s request caused widespread fear of retaliation for anyone who sought to speak up about wrongdoing in the county. He also accuses Budish of allowing former jail director Ken Mills to act with impunity and push a cost-cutting agenda at the jail that fueled deteriorating conditions. His testimony came weeks before the first of eight inmates died in 2018.
The lawsuit centers around a May 22, 2018 Cuyahoga County Council Public Safety Committee meeting where Brack became the first jail employee to levy public criticism over the way the jail was run, and his subsequent firing. The lawsuit also provides a glimpse into what Brack might have told FBI agents and a Cuyahoga County grand jury that has so far handed up 10 indictments related to the jail, including one that accuses Mills of lying during the same meeting and later lying to investigators about his communication with a “high-ranking” county official.
Mills, Budish, MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Butros and Chief of Staff Jane Platten are defendants in the lawsuit, along with Cuyahoga County.
Brack is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages for wrongful termination and conspiracy to deprive him of his First Amendment rights.
Mills pushed a cost-cutting agenda at the jail at Budish’s request that fueled deteriorating conditions and he often bragged at meetings that the jail was underbudget, the lawsuit says. “(Mills’) orders came straight from the top,” the lawsuit says. “He faithfully executed Budish’s mandate to cut costs at any cost and conceal the deadly consequences from the public.”
The understaffing led to an increase of repeated forced lockdowns of inmates, called red-zoning.
That caused between 100 and 200 inmates to live on lockdown under the supervision of only one officer. The lawsuit says Brack complained about the red-zoning to Mills after 30 inmates from the same locked-down cluster of cells reported having chest pains so they could get out of their cells. The inmates were locked down for nearly 24 consecutive hours, the lawsuit says.
In 2017, Mills ordered that jail medical personnel were no longer allowed to join jail officers in conducting rounds of inmates with mental illnesses who were being housed in isolation, according to the lawsuit. Brack told Mills that medical staffing is necessary to help address behavioral issues, but Mills said: “I run the jail,” according to the lawsuit. Mills in February 2018 also helped cover up a violent attack of an inmate by a jail guard, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit does not name the guards, nor the inmate who was attacked, but Chandra confirmed that it’s the same case that became the subject of an April 18 indictment.
Jail officer John Wilson was indicted on a felonious assault charge in the attack more than a year after the incident happened.
Castleberry and Wilson fought over a bologna sandwich. Wilson attacked Joshua Castleberry and knocked out two of his teeth, including one that became lodged in his nasal cavity, the indictment says.
Officers placed Castleberry in a restraint chair and placed a mask over his face in order to hide his injuries, according to the lawsuit. The guards refused to let nurses remove the mask. One nurse asked to do a medical evaluation but a jail officer replied: “He wants to hit one of my officers, he can sit the f–k there for hours,” according to the lawsuit. The nurse called Brack, who called a jail supervisor and demanded nurses have access to treat Castleberry. A half-hour later, the nurses were allowed to see Castleberry, who was rushed to MetroHealth for facial reconstruction surgery, according to the lawsuit.
Mills smiled at then-Warden Eric Ivey, who has since been indicted and accused of unrelated crimes, and told Tallman that he watched the surveillance video and determined the officer’s actions were appropriate. Tallman asked to watch the video, but Mills refused. “I already reviewed it— nothing was done wrong,” Mills replied, the lawsuit says. Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney told Brack that he would examine the incident. When he did, the security and body camera videos had “disappeared,” the lawsuit says.
Pinkney testified in an October 2017 budget hearing in front of County Council about Mills’ plan to privatize nursing at the jail by switching contacts from MetroHealth to an Alabama-based company called NaphCare.
Corruption investigators later sought records relating to NaphCare during a Feb. 14, 2019 raid on Budish’s office, according to a copy of the search warrant previously obtained by cleveland.com. The next day, Budish and his former Chief-of-Staff Earl Leiken drove to MetroHealth, met with Boutros and demanded Brack’s ouster from the jail, according to the lawsuit and records obtained by cleveland.com. “Rather than address (Mills’) conduct at the jail, or any of the serious issues Nurse Brack aired, Budish retaliated for exposing his lieutenant’s malfeasance and embarrassing his administration,” the lawsuit says. Boutros complied, and Brack was removed from his job and placed on administrative leave.
Chandra on June 29, 2018 called MetroHealth and said Brack would have claims of workplace discrimination and other rights violated if they fired him, according to the lawsuit. MetroHealth attorney Laura McBride responded on July 10 that MetroHealth offered Brack two lower-level jobs that would allow him to remain employed with the hospital. Brack refused and was fired Aug. 29, 2018. His ouster caused employees to become “afraid to explain how the jail became one of the worst in the nation because they feared retaliation,” according to the lawsuit.
After the May 22 meeting, seven inmates died, leading to intense scrutiny of the jail. Budish asked the U.S. Marshals Service to conduct an inspection.
Mills resigned Nov. 14, a week before the marshals released their report that detailed “inhumane” conditions at the jail, including inmates with medical and mental illness didn’t get proper or consistent treatment, excessive use-of-force by guards and myriad of other issues.
The FBI began an investigation into possible civil rights abuses at the jail.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office also pivoted its sprawling investigation into possible corruption in the county’s IT department to include the problems at the jail.
Mills was accused in a criminal indictment of lying during the May 22, 2018 meeting, and later lying to federal and county investigators about his communications with a “high-level Cuyahoga County official.” He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office took over the case, and nine others at the jail have since been indicted, including Ivey. He was accused of ordering officers body cameras shut off during an investigation into an inmate’s death.
The deaths prompted Cleveland Municipal Judge Michael Nelson to request that the county’s jail operate under a consent decree that would dictate mandatory reforms through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the oversight of a federal judge. A civil lawsuit filed in December on behalf of inmates also calls for a similar agreement.