The Cook County Merit Board has ordered two officers from the Cook County Department of Corrections to be reinstated to work after being wrongfully terminated by the Sheriff. In both cases, the Merit Board found that the officers did not violate the use of excessive force policy based on the previous complaints filed by the Sheriff and evidence brought by the Union.
Member Case #1
The Sheriff filed a complaint against the officer on July 16, 2018, recommending termination for what he claimed as excessive force during a Dec. 16, 2016 incident. That incident involved an inmate who was acting aggressive as the officer first approached his cell to unlock the door and give the inmate his medicine. The inmate then moved forward and chest-bumped the officer. The officer put his hands out to push the inmate back, with the proper use of force, into his cell. The inmate then launched an attack on the officer, punching him multiple times in the head and face until he fell to the ground. As the inmate delivered more punches to the officer, back up was called and even while multiple officers attempted to get the inmate under control and handcuffed, he still continued to attack the officer. In self-defense, while the officer was trying to protect further blows to his head, he attempted to fend off the inmate, but never actually struck him.
After the inmate was finally detained, the officer was sent to the hospital and kept overnight with lower back trauma and a concussion and was unable to work for months. The video evidence showed that the officer never made any physical contact with the inmate after being attacked and that his actions before, during and after the attack were all justified per the Sheriff’s orders of employee conduct.
Member Case #2
The Sheriff filed a complaint against the officer on Aug. 24, 2016, recommending termination for what he claimed as excessive force during a Nov. 17, 2014 incident. On that date, the officer asked the inmate to sit on a bench so he could search his property bag. The inmate did not comply and began walking around and starting throwing items from his bag and surrounding area at the officer. The officer then performed an emergency takedown, cuffing the inmate’s hands behind his back and instructing him to stop resisting. The Merit Board found that the officer did not use any excessive force to detain the inmate, who at the time was a moving resistor.
“These are both significant wins that reflect on all of the officers that work at the Department of Corrections,” said Teamsters Local 700 President Michael G. Melone. “While the Sheriff’s Merit Board process continues to hold up a number of cases, Local 700 will never give up on seeking justice and the best possible remedy for our members that were wrongfully disciplined or terminated.”
The Union intends to pursue back pay for both officers during the time they were off.