Beat a Defenseless Inmate, Win an Award
A defenseless inmate was beaten by Tioga County Jail’s top administrator, David Monell, after being pepper-sprayed and handcuffed to a wooden bench by other officers. But the Commission of Correction ended its investigation and Tioga’s district attorney decided not to prosecute after Monell resigned.
Although the beating was captured on videotape and brought to the attention of Tioga County’s top law enforcement officer and its chief prosecutor, charges were never filed following the 2010 assault of a defenseless man at the Tioga County Jail.
On June 21, 2010, inmate David Coffey had been pepper-sprayed and was handcuffed to a wooden bench, records show, when Tioga County Jail Administrator David Monell threw at least six blows at him. Coffey was left with cuts and abrasions to his face and mouth, and has since accused Monell of permanently damaging his eyesight.
The very next day, Monell was honored on the floor of the New York State Senate as the “2010 Correction Officer of the Year.” The legislators who honored him had no idea what had happened only hours before.
The day after that, Monell resigned. Coffey chose not to file criminal charges, and Tioga County District Attorney Gerald Keene decided Monell’s resignation was punishment enough.
“As far as I was concerned at the time, Monell was a lieutenant, and he was resigning his position as a result of the incident,” Keene said. “I was of the opinion that that was enough — that he didn’t need to have charges brought against him.”
About 10:30 a.m. on June 21, 2010, three corrections officers handcuffed Coffey to a bench in Intake Room 21 after he had been pepper-sprayed because of uncooperative behavior, according to the Tioga County Sheriff’s Office investigation report, which is based on a review of surveillance video and witness interviews over a 10-day span.
Monell told the officers to “take a walk” and entered the room himself, according to the document, which does not make clear why the jail’s top official decided to become personally involved.
“You are going to regret this day,” probation officer Brian Cain, who was nearby, overheard Monell say to Coffey, who was charged in 2010 with two felonies in connection to an investigation into a Broome County methamphetamine lab.
Monell struck Coffey at least three times before grabbing him by the neck and pushing him into a wall. Then Monell struck him “approximately 3 times in an uppercut-type motion to the facial area,” the sheriff’s office internal report states.
While jail officials launched their investigation into the incident within hours, officials have not shared their knowledge of the incident with the public over the past 19 months. Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard declined to answer questions.
So… If I were to beat a defenseless and restrained individual and then quit my job the next day, I’d avoid prosecution? Yeah.
Image via SF Weekly