Excessive-force lawsuit filed over incident at Vermilion County Jail

Excessive-force lawsuit filed over incident at Vermilion County Jail

DANVILLE — The Vermilion County Sheriff's Department denies allegations in a federal lawsuit that correctional officers at the county jail beat an inmate with excessive force.

Attorneys representing the former inmate, Willie L. Richardson, 23, filed the lawsuit in January in U.S. District Court, alleging the incident took place in December when Richardson was an inmate at the Vermilion County Jail.

Responding to the lawsuit this week through the county's legal counsel, one of the correctional officers admits hitting Richardson once but denies all other allegations.

The following is the account laid out in the complaint filed by Richardson's attorney, Shneur Z. Nathan of Chicago.

On Dec. 3, Richardson was playing cards when a correctional officer verbally insulted him for no reason. Richardson approached the officer and asked him why he was insulting him. Correctional officers ordered the cell block to lock up, and then, with the intention of taking Richardson to segregation, three officers escorted him to a sally port where one of the officers punched Richardson in the face without justification, followed by two officers kneeing him in the ribs, and two kicking him in the face.

The complaint alleges he was taken to the sally port because there are no video cameras there.

It also alleges he was repeatedly hit in the back of the head by one of the correctional officers while he was handcuffed in another area of the jail.

The next day, a nurse visited Richardson and offered him Ibuprofen, and he was kept in segregation until Dec. 7 to conceal the abuse, the complaint alleges.

Richardson has since been released from jail.

In the county's response to the complaint, filed Tuesday by attorney Michael Condon of Itasca, one correctional officer admits punching Richardson in the face one time but denies that it was "without any justification."

All the other allegations of physical abuse are denied by the county in its answer, which states that the "correctional officers were acting under color of law and within the scope of their employment at all relevant times during this incident. Defendants deny that they committed any misconduct as alleged."

According to Vermilion County court records, Richardson pleaded guilty in May 2016 to possessing methamphetamine manufacturing materials. He was sentenced to 36 months of probation.

But he later failed to appear for a sentencing hearing on a probation violation, and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

He was picked up on the warrant in late November, and in late December, he was sentenced to 42 months of probation.

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