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Cook County Deputies Charged in Beating Death

Three Cook County (Chicago, IL.) deputies were charged with murder for allegedly beating a prisoner in a courthouse holding cell May 5, 2000. The prisoner died two days later from injuries sustained in the beating.

Louis Schmude, 40, was awaiting a court hearing on a charge of violating an order of protection that his wife obtained against him. Schmude, who suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, asked a female sergeant for water and medical attention, said a witness. The sergeant ignored Schmude's request and he cursed at her, said the witness, who was in the same holding cell when the incident occurred.

The sergeant and two male deputies handcuffed Schmude and began punching and kicking him, the witness said, and then dragged him into an elevator.

"You could see them dragging him into an elevator," the witness told the Chicago SunTimes. "As the door was closing, I could see her kicking him, stomping him... As the doors closed... all you could hear is the guy screaming, `I'm sorry, I'm sorry.'"

At the hearing, Schmude told his wife he'd been beaten. He asked the judge for a glass of water and medical attention. Schmude died two days later of internal bleeding after his spleen was lacerated from blunt trauma, according to the Cook County medical examiner.

Charged were Sgt. Patricia Pultz and deputies Lawrence Koscianski and William Spatz. The three were suspended without pay and later fired after Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan decided they had used excessive force and failed to file a report on the incident.

Since 1996, six other Cook County sheriff's employees have been charged with crimes involving excessive force complaints, none of them involving a death. Three were acquitted and three others are pending trial.

As a result of Schmude's death, the sheriff's office plans to install video cameras in courthouse holding cells.

Source: Chicago SunTimes

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