CLEVELAND, Ohio – Guards strapped Terrance Debose to a chair in a small cell tucked away in the Cuyahoga County Jail where no one else could see him.
Corrections Cpl. Nicholas Evans stood next to the chair. He flipped his body camera off and pummeled the face of the 47-year-old inmate who suffers from an undiagnosed mental illness. Debose could not move his arms to defend himself from the onslaught.
Cuyahoga County released surveillance video to cleveland.com Thursday of the March 22 incident after months of delays and denials.
The video showed Timothy Dugan, another corrections officer, punch Debose in the face one last time. The two now-indicted guards left Dubose strapped in the chair for two hours as his face bled.
The beating takes 13 seconds and is among the shortest of the videos released by Cuyahoga County of corrections officers accused of abuse and violating the civil-rights of jail inmates. But it’s also among the most brutal in its depiction of violence.
Debose suffered a concussion as a result of the attack.
Evans punches Debose six times and Dugan twice. Evans faces a felonious assault charge that carries a potential eight-year prison sentence if he’s convicted. Dugan is charged with misdemeanor assault, and both are charged with violating Debose’s civil rights. They pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in early April.
The two officers are on unpaid administrative leave while the case is pending.
Brian Rothenberg, spokesman the United Autoworkers Region 2B, the union that represents Cuyahoga County’s corporals, said the UAW does not comment on pending litigation.
“While we can’t run from the video, the evidence provided to us during the course of our defense does not appear to show serious physical harm to sustain a felony conviction in this case,” said Adam Chaloupka, an attorney with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
Debose was initially jailed on cocaine possession and charges of tampering with evidence. His initial bond was $2,500, and he has since been indicted on charges of aggravated burglary, felonious assault and theft. $50,000.
Debose remains incarcerated in the same jail where the beating took place.
His brother, Emanuel Debose, said in an interview that his brother has always suffered from mental illness, but is unsure of his exact diagnosis. His cases are on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court’s mental health docket, which is designed to help mentally ill offenders get the help they need instead of languishing in jails and prisons.
Emanuel Debose said his family has tried to get his brother the mental health treatment he needs.
“As he got older he wasn’t able to deal with it because he would stop taking his meds,” Emanuel Debose said. “As long as he takes his medicine he’s calm.”
Emanuel Debose said his brother called him from the jail after the attack and gave him a brief explanation about what had happened.
“He said they beat him up bad,” Emanuel Debose said. “He said he wasn’t really able to talk because they’re recording the calls from the jail. He asked if I could get him some help, but I really didn’t know how to go about doing that type of stuff.”
The corrections officers who beat his brother are among the eight charged various incidents that are part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office ongoing probe of civil-rights violations in the jail. Also charged are former warden Eric Ivey and former jail director Ken Mills.
Emanuel Debose said the attack made him furious, and he hopes the officers charged in his brother’s beatings are fully prosecuted.
“I want justice for him,” he said of his brother. “They don’t have the right to do that. You see so much police brutality. I just want justice served at this point.”