Cuyahoga County Jail officers plead guilty to unleashing beating on mentally ill man strapped to chair

Cleveland 0 month ago

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two Cuyahoga County Jail officers pleaded guilty Tuesday to unleashing a beating on a mentally-ill man who they strapped to a restraint chair, including one who purposefully turned off his body camera before pummeling the man’s face.

Jail surveillance video, however, recorded Cpl. Nicholas Evans flip his body camera off and punch inmate Terrance Debose six times. Officer Timothy Dugan punched Debose twice.

Evans pleaded guilty to attempted felonious assault and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies. Dugan pleaded guilty to attempted abduction, a fourth-degree felony and first-degree misdemeanor assault.

Both agreed to resign from their jobs at the jail when they’re sentenced Dec. 12 by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell.

Dugan agreed as part of the plea agreement to cooperate with investigators in several cases that are on-going and in cases prosecutors are still investigating. Dugan said during the hearing that he has already given statements to prosecutors in some of the cases.

Evans faces a sentence between probation and six years in prison on both charges. Dugan faces anywhere from probation to two years in prison.

Evans sat up-right with his hands clasped in front of him during the short hearing. Dugan sat back in his chair as both answered standard questions from O’Donnell about whether they understood the plea agreement.

Of the several jail videos uncovered and published by, the attack on Debose, 47, is among the most brutal in its depiction of violence, especially because Debose is tied down, unable to move.

The attack happened March 22, after the jail became the focus of intense scrutiny by the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, Ohio Governor’s Office and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office— which launched a criminal probe of the jail and prosecuted Dugan and Evans— after eight inmates died in 2018 and the marshals found “inhumane” conditions for inmates.

The county did not internally discipline Evans, 35, and Dugan, 40, for the attack. They were put on unpaid leave after being charged in the case.

Debose at the time was jailed on charges of cocaine possession and tampering with evidence. His initial bond was $2,500, and was later indicted on charges of aggravated burglary, felonious assault and theft. He pleaded guilty in all three cases.

He was sentenced to two years on probation, to attend all mental-health appointments and to abide by the doctor’s treatment plan.

Evans and Dugan are the second and third convictions in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office probe.

Former warden Eric Ivey previously pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into the August 2018 overdose death of inmate Joseph Arquillo, one of eight inmate deaths that year. He was sentenced Oct. 3 to probation and part of his plea agreement is to cooperate with prosecutors probing other cases in the jail.

A jury partially acquitted two corrections officers Sept. 25 in a case where they were accused of attacking an inmate and purposefully blocking medical care after the attack. The jury was deadlocked on the most serious charges and a judge declared a mistrial. Prosecutors plan to pursue another trial in that case.

Cases against six other former and current jail employees remain pending, including against former jail director Ken Mills. A fired jail officer faces charges that accuse him of ignoring Arquillo as he died, two officers are accused of strapping a woman to a restraint chair and pepper-spraying her face and two officers are accused of being part of a drug and contraband smuggling ring at the jail connected to the Heartless Felons street gang. All have pleaded not guilty.

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