New lawsuit claims Cuyahoga County corrections officers threatened to murder inmate and ‘make it look like a suicide’

Updated: Sep. 16, 2019 at 10:41 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A former inmate at the Cuyahoga County Jail has filed a lawsuit claiming that corrections officers threatened violent retaliation for reporting misconduct.

The lawsuit filed by Corrionne Lawrence alleges that corrections officers assaulted and threatened to make a murder “look like a suicide” in the fall of 2018 for reporting abuse to the U.S. Marshals Service.

According to Lawrence’s claims, he was restrained for hours as punishment for speaking Spanish during his booking at the jail. The corrections officers also allegedly assaulted him while he was restrained in an elevator where the security camera was not working and allowed another inmate to attack him.

“For too long, Cuyahoga County has nurtured a culture of violence at the jail. Corrections officers should not be doling out beatdowns or threatening people for reporting abuse," Lawrence’s lead counsel, Ashlie Case Sletvold, said. "It is time for the county to reckon with the scope of the harm its practices have caused. We will hold the county and the individual officers responsible for what they have done to Corrionne Lawrence.”

Cuyahoga County and six corrections officers are listed in the lawsuit.

Lawrence’s legal claims joins several other lawsuits recently filed against the Cuyahoga County Jail.

Ashlie Case-Sletvold of the Chandra Law Firm said the lawsuit gives more insight into what is really happening inside the jail.

“When we get to a point where not only those incarcerated, but those working in the jail, feel empowered to report those abuses, that’s when we’ll know that this culture has been eradicated, this violent and brutal behavior that we’re seeing time and time again," she said.

However, she said that the appearance of punishment in response to cooperation with the U.S. Marshal’s report is even more troubling.

“The fear that has to be running through you, as you consider whether you should speak out and report the abuse, when you’ve been threatened with death," she said. "You’re at a place where you know you’re at the mercy of corrections staff.”

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