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Cuyahoga County approves settlement for woman pepper-sprayed by jail officers

Cuyahoga County Justice Center in Downtown Cleveland where the county jail is located.
Nick Castele
/
Ideastream Public Media
Cuyahoga County Justice Center in Downtown Cleveland where the county jail is located.

Cuyahoga County has agreed to settle a five-year-old federal lawsuit filed by a former detainee at the county jail for $300,000.

At its meeting Tuesday night, council approved a settlement with Chantelle Glass and her attorneys, who first sued the county and officials overseeing the jail in 2019, a year after Glass was taken to the jail following a domestic dispute.

“The unprecedented humanitarian crisis at the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center — which has caused so much harm through the unconstitutional mistreatment of those in custody — was an entirely foreseeable and avoidable disaster,” wrote Glass’ attorneys in the complaint filed in federal court. “But from the top down, those with power deliberately abused it — mistreating inmates and employees alike — and for that they must account.”

Glass’ assault occurred about four months before the release of a U.S. Marshall’s report on the inhumane conditions in the jail.

Two corrections officers — Idris Farid-Clark and Robert Marsh — restrained, punched and pepper-sprayed Glass after an argument over her request to make a phone call, court records show.

Both officers were sentenced to jail for assault in 2019, Farid-Clark received an 18-month sentence and Marsh was sentenced to 30 days in county jail.

A video of the incident, released shortly after Farid-Clark and Marsh were charged, shows Glass being led to a restraining chair in a common area of the jail. Glass is not resisting as she walks there, but Farid-Clark can be seen in the footage spraying her directly in the eyes from close range with pepper spray once she’s in the chair. Marsh can be seen punching her in the head.

“This is a civil-rights action brought to redress an act of torture perpetrated by two corrections officers who — as numerous colleagues looked on — restrained, punched, and pepper sprayed Chantelle Glass for asking to make a phone call, and to hold Cuyahoga County and its leadership responsible for adopting customs, policies, patterns, or practices leading to the brutalization of incarcerated citizens, including Ms. Glass,” according to the lawsuit.

County council members discussed the settlement in executive session and there was no comment from members during Tuesday night’s vote.

The lawsuit named former Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, along with his chief of staff Earl Leiken and several former officials at the jail, including former Warden Eric Ivey, former Sheriff Clifford Pinkney and former jail administrator Kenneth Mills.

The complaint describes the assault on Glass as a result of the recently adopted policy of “regionalization” that led to a surge in population at the Downtown Cleveland facility without proper preparation.

“Due to this effort, many people’s civil rights were violated through punitive violence, inadequate medical care, and generally unhygienic and depraved conditions,” the complaint said. “Plaintiff Chantelle Glass was among the many victims of this terrible, but avoidable, nightmare.”

The county has since brought in MetroHealth to provide medical care at the facility. Plans to build a new jail in Garfield Heights are moving ahead — the county selected land to build on and passed a sales tax extension to fund construction late last year.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.