A former Jackson County jail inmate filed a civil rights lawsuit this week alleging that guards used excessive force when he complained about being strip searched during a 2014 stay at the county detention center.
“Shut the (expletive) up,” one of the guards allegedly told Rasheed M. Early before smashing the man’s face into a wall and dragging him to the elevator by his hair, according to the lawsuit.
The suit was filed one day before the statute of limitations would have expired. Two lawsuits and two criminal cases have been filed in recent years concerning allegations that county corrections officers brutalized prisoners.
The violent incidents prompting the civil and criminal litigation occurred prior to August 2015, when county officials announced that the FBI was investigating instances of corrections officers using excessive force on detainees.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Since then, no public allegations of brutality against inmates have made the news, although attacks on guards by detainees have more than once.
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in district court, Early was assaulted by four corrections officers on March 13, 2014, when, according to county court records, Early was awaiting trial on armed robbery charges at the time. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Early is now in his mid-30s.
Early says that when he objected to being strip searched, a man identified only as “Lt. Brown” slammed Early’s face into the wall, choked and punched him, then threw him face-first onto the floor.
After more violence involving Brown, three corrections officers assisted in the search, according to the lawsuit. In addition to Brown, the suit names as defendants Jackson County and those three officers: Maurice Childress, Terrill D. Franklin and Jeremiah A. Schroeder.
No charges were filed against the men. Childress left the county payroll in 2015, Franklin in 2017 and Schroeder in 2018. Without a first name, the county was unable to provide Brown’s employment status, a county spokeswoman said.
Four other guards are awaiting trial on criminal charges filed in 2017 that accused them of violating the civil rights of another prisoner in 2015. A trial was to have begun this month but is now set for the end of August in federal court in Kansas City.
Three of the four are accused of hitting and kicking an inmate who posed no threat to them because he was strapped in a restraint chair. A fourth was charged for allegedly being a look-out.
The county paid $437,500 to settle a threatened lawsuit by the victim, who suffered nine broken ribs, fractured wrists and a collapsed lung.
Also in 2015, the federal government filed a criminal civil rights violation against a former Jackson County guard. He was seen on a 2011 video stomping the head of a shackled detainee at least 12 times.
Prosecutors dropped that case two years ago after juries in two separate trials failed to reach a verdict.