State’s Attorney announces charges for two County correctional officers

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Two Correctional Officers are facing felony charges for allegedly ordering inmates in a maximum security division of the Cook County Jail to beat up an inmate who had called the officers derogatory names and then afterward filing false reports and giving false testimony before a grand jury in an attempt to cover up their actions, the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today. 

Pamela Bruce, 29 and Delphia Sawyer, 31, both six-year veteran corrections officers, are charged with Official Misconduct (Class 3 felony), Perjury (Class 3 felony), Mob Action (Class 4 felony) and Obstruction of Justice (Class 4 felony).  Both officers appeared in court today at the George Leighton Criminal Courts Building where their bonds were set at $50,000 each.  Judge Edward Harmening also ordered the officers to surrender their firearms, ammunition and firearm owners’ identification cards.

Bruce and Sawyer were charged in connection with an incident that occurred Feb. 9, 2012 when they were working as partners in a tier of the Jail’s maximum security Division 10.  According to prosecutors, Bruce and Sawyer were working the 3-11 shift and approximately halfway into the shift some of the inmates removed the electrical switch plate on the far end of the tier causing a burst of light, smoke and a power shortage in some of the cells.  The officers noticed the commotion and entered the deck of the tier.  After determining the cause of the power outage and the suspected names of those involved, the defendants ordered two of the inmates suspected of causing the disturbance into their cells and started looking for a third suspect. The third suspect, an 18-year-old inmate, is the victim in this case.

According to court documents, Bruce and Sawyer found the victim in the shower area and ordered him to his cell.  The officers began to curse at the defendant and the victim cursed back at them.  As the victim was being escorted back to his cell the verbal exchange escalated.  Other inmates on the tier convinced the victim to calm down and the victim entered his cell without further incident. 

Bruce and Sawyer then went back to their command post but a short time later returned, approached two inmates in the tier and instructed them to go into the victim’s cell and beat him.  Bruce and Sawyer then walked the two inmates down to the victim’s cell, unlocked the cell and let the two inmates inside.

The two inmates then beat the victim in the face and head.  Bruce and Sawyer watched the beating and instructed the inmates to hit the victim only in the body by yelling “body shots, body shots. Don’t hit him in the head.”  Bruce and Sawyer then entered the victim’s cell and joined in the beating by hitting the victim with their radios and kicking him. 

The defendants then handcuffed the victim and took him to the Dispensary for medical attention.  Bruce and Sawyer then announced to the other inmates on the tier, “This is what happens to you (expletive) when you step out of line.  You disrespect us, we disrespect you.”

Prosecutors alleged that Bruce and Sawyer then attempted to cover up their actions by telling their supervisor that the victim’s injuries were self inflicted and that they witnessed him trying to commit suicide by banging his head in the shower.  The defendants later completed paperwork about the incident and included the same false statements and later also testified under oath before a Cook County Grand Jury giving the same false statements. 

The next court date for this case is March 15, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building.

The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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