A former inmate at the Cook County Jail is suing the Cook County sheriff’s office, alleging the office tried to cover up a correctional officer’s beating of him during a transport last year.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, 29-year-old Litroy Bolton claims that an officer threw him to the ground, and repeatedly punched and slammed him as he was being transported to another part of the jail.
The suit further alleges the beating was caught on video, but the sheriff’s office did not properly report the incident.
Cara Smith, sheriff’s office chief of policy and communications, confirmed there was an excessive force incident in early 2015 involving Bolton, but called the allegations that the office tried to hide the incident “outrageous.”
Bolton was being transported to Division 8 of the jail when he overheard one of the officers say that he couldn’t be placed in a certain cell because it was quarantined, according to the suit. A second officer said he would place Bolton in the cell anyway.
When Bolton said he did not want to be placed in the cell because he didn’t want to get sick, and asked to speak to the sergeant on duty, the second officer allegedly refused the requests and ordered Bolton to get on the ground, according to the suit.
At the same time, the officer threw him to the ground, causing Bolton to fall on his back. He turned onto his front and put his hands behind his back, but the officer proceeded to punch him in the face and head, and continued to slam his body on the concrete floor, even after other officers intervened to handcuff Bolton, the suit alleges.
The guard named as the aggressor in the suit has been placed on an assignment with no inmate contact as the sheriff pursues the “swift termination of the officer,” Smith said.
“There was an immediate response to the excessive use of force,” she said.
The suit claims the sergeant on duty falsified a report of the incident. Bolton filed a grievance with the jail, and the lawsuit details that he followed all the instructions given to him by the offices of Professional Review and Internal Affairs.
The suit was filed the same day another ex-inmate filed a federal lawsuit against a guard for a beating that was caught on video in 2013, and after the sheriff’s office released six videos last month involving excessive force in the jail between 2011-12.
Smith said the tape mentioned in Bolton’s suit has not been released to the public because it has not yet been presented to the Cook County Sheriff’s Merit Board.
“To suggest that this showed some kind of code of silence is ridiculous and outrageous,” Smith said.
In addition to the sheriff’s office and the two guards who were transporting Bolton, the eight-count suit names an internal affairs investigator and the director of the Cook County Department of Corrections as defendants.
The suit includes claims of excessive force, assault and conspiracy, and asks for an unspecified amount in damages.