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Ohio: Federal Lawsuit Over Jail Beating Settles for $70,000

by Christopher Zoukis

A federal lawsuit alleging various constitutional and state law violations related to the beating of a jail detainee in Euclid City, Ohio settled in October 2017 for $70,000.

On January 14, 2015, Lucille Dumas was arrested in connection with a traffic stop. As she was being booked into the Euclid City Jail by Corporal Madeline Chappell, a verbal exchange turned into a full-on assault. According to the complaint, which cited an after-action report by a county detective, Chappell ran around a desk and punched Dumas in the face. She then wrestled Dumas to the ground and pepper sprayed, kicked and ultimately handcuffed her.

Dumas was then strapped into a restraint chair with the assistance of other guards. Video showed Chappell lifting a handcuffed Dumas off the floor by her hair and “slamming her into the restraint chair.” As the other jailers strapped Dumas in, Chappell punched her in the face three times while she was restrained.

According to the detective’s report, Chappell then looked around, adjusted her hair and struck Dumas again.

The guards then pushed the chair holding Dumas out of camera view. Chappell was seen entering the area at least twice with a Tupperware bowl full of water. According to deposition testimony of the other jailers, Chappell “unnecessarily drenched [Dumas] with water in an aggressive manner,” then “took the bucket and slapped Dumas upside the head with a back hand slapping motion [which] cracked the bucket down the middle.” When a guard tried to rinse the pepper spray from Dumas’ face, Chappell ordered him to stop.

After the incident, Corporal Chappell read the reports written by the other jailers. As she read a statement by fellow guard Cheryl Mott, she said, “oh hell no you’re doing too much.” She then erased Mott’s lengthy report and replaced it with one sentence.

Chappell was later fired and indicted on five counts, including kidnapping, tampering with records and assault. She pleaded guilty in December 2015, was sentenced to one year of probation and agreed to never work in law enforcement again.

Dumas sued Chappell, as well as guards Mott, Delonte Brown, Macarthur Williams and Craig Murowsky. Her claims included failure to supervise, excessive use of force, battery, failure to train and malicious attempt to influence public officials. On October 31, 2017, without admitting any liability, the defendants agreed to settle all the claims for $70,000, inclusive of attorney fees and costs. See: Dumas v. Chappell, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ohio), Case No. 1:16-cv-00081-DCN. 

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Related legal case

Dumas v. Chappell