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Former Cuyahoga County jail inmate files suit over corrections officers' abuse and retaliation for reporting their misconduct to U.S. Marshals

Monday, September 16, 2019

Corrections officers allegedly beat and threatened to murder Corrionne Lawrence and “make it look like a suicide." It's the third suit Chandra Law has filed this year showing a pattern and practice of torture and abuse in the County jail.

CLEVELAND, OH—On September 13, 2019, Corrionne Lawrence, who was formerly incarcerated at the Cuyahoga County jail, sued the County and six corrections officers in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

The complaint, available here, alleges that last fall, corrections officers:

  • Confined Lawrence to a restraint chair for hours as punishment for speaking Spanish during his booking;
  • Knowingly allowed him to be attacked by another inmate who was being held for the murder of his cousin;
  • Beat a handcuffed, compliant Mr. Lawrence in an elevator where the security camera was inoperable and then denied him medical treatment for his injuries;
  • Threatened to mace Mr. Lawrence and hang him and “make it look like a suicide;”
  • Retaliated against him for reporting these and other abuses to investigators the United States Marshals Service by threatening him, serving him rotten food, and denying him access to basic hygiene privileges.

The suit documents numerous other instances of abuse against Cuyahoga County jail inmates, showing that the County has a custom, policy, pattern, and practice of fostering a culture of abuse and corruption at the jail and failing to train and supervise corrections officers.

Lawrence’s lead counsel, Subodh Chandra, said, “For too long, Cuyahoga County has nurtured a culture of violence at the jail. Corrections officers should not be doling out beatdowns or threatening people for reporting abuse. It is time for the county to reckon with the scope of the harm its practices have caused. We will hold the county and the individual officers responsible for what they have done to Corrionne Lawrence.”

The suit is captioned Lawrence v. Cuyahoga County, et al. Case No. CV-19-921522, and states causes of action for violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, civil assault and battery, and civil liability for criminal acts including felonious assault, unlawful restraint, intimidation, menacing, interfering with civil rights, and dereliction of duty. Individual corrections officers named include Christopher Little, Brandon Smith, Barry Hickerson, and Beverly Witt. Two other officers sued remain unidentified.

Subodh Chandra and Brian Bardwell of The Chandra Law Firm LLC represent Mr. Lawrence.

This is the third lawsuit in 2019 filed by Chandra Law against Cuyahoga County and its corrections officers over abuse, torture, and other misconduct in the jail. The others include a retaliation suit on behalf of Nurse Gary Brack, who blew the whistle on jail conditions to County Council, and Chantelle Glass, who suffered torture and then medical indifference by corrections officers.

Related Practice Areas
Government Ethics, Misconduct, Fraud, & AbusePolice Misconduct & Brutality

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