A Cook County correctional officer convicted of aggravated battery and official misconduct charges for punching an inmate in the face has been sentenced to probation.
Rico Palomino, 43, was sentenced to 18 months of probation for the June 16, 2012, incident, which was captured on cameras at the Cook County Jail.
Before the punch was thrown, inmate Rafael Aleman had asked Palomino where the inventoried property was stored so he could look up a phone number, authorities had said at the time of Palomino’s arrest.
As the inmate started walking away, Palomino allegedly told Aleman to return to a holding area and stated, “If you don’t get back over here, I am going to f— you up.”
Palomino — who is 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds — then hit the 5-foot-9 Aleman in the face without any provocation.
Palomino had claimed during a bench trial this June that he was defending himself, the Chicago Sun-Times reported previously. But in delivering his ruling, Judge Lawrence Flood said that Aleman never saw the punch coming and that there was no evidence Palomino was defending himself.
Aleman’s hands were to his side and his fists were never closed while he was in the receiving area of the jail being processed for misdemeanor charges of violating an order of protection and criminal trespass, the judge said. If Aleman’s hands went up, it was because he was raising them as a “reflective action” to Palomino’s blow, Flood continued.
Aleman was hit so hard, he fell to the floor and needed five to ten stitches as a result of the attack.
Palomino is still employed by the Cook County sheriff’s office, but has been stripped of his police powers and suspended without pay, spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said. The sheriff’s office is seeking to terminate him, and a merit board hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27.
The Cook County sheriff’s office initially prompted the investigation into Palomino’s conduct, Ansari said.
— Sun-Times Wire, Chicago Sun-Times