Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Jail Guards Pepper-Spray Black Woman Strapped to Torture Chamber Restraint Chair

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Are Cuyahoga County Jail corrections guards engaged in ritual torture of inmates?
Photo: video screenshot

Chantelle Glass is being victimized above by guards inside Cuyahoga County Jail torture chamber...

A newly released video shows a Black Ohio woman being pepper-sprayed and assaulted by corrections officers inside Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Jail—while she was strapped to a restraint chair, in July 2018.

The Cuyahoga County Jail has been in the news recently because of the suspicious deaths of nine inmates over the past year. Two corrections officers have been arrested and charged in connection with one of those deaths--that of inmate Joseph Arquillo. Several others have also been arrested and charged with assaulting inmates—while they were strapped and restrained to chairs.

Something must be done to correct the violence at the Cuyahoga County Jail—which appears to be a torture and death chamber.

The released video, from a surveillance camera inside the Cuyahoga County Jail, documents the assault upon Chantelle Glass on July 16, 2018. Glass, 29, was initially involved in a heated altercation with her sister when police were called. She was jailed after officers discovered she had an outstanding unpaid traffic ticket.

This week, the supervisor who oversaw the assault on Ms. Glass, Idris-Farid Clark, who is Black, was suspended for a mere fifteen days. On Wednesday, another corrections officer, Robert Marsh, who is White, was given a three-day suspension for his part in assaulting Glass at the Cuyahoga Jail.

The video of Glass’ assault is disturbing for several reasons. Even before Glass is brought into the torture chamber room, supervisor Clark is seen shaking a pepper-spray bottle. This suggests he was preparing to do what he did.

As Clark is doing this, officer Marsh brings in a restraint chair. Not long after, Glass is led into the room by Clark and Marsh. By this time, two other officers, both of whom appear to be Black, are also now present. Marsh sits Glass into the restraint chair. He then forcefully shoves her body forward, by the neck, and takes off the handcuffs. Next, along with supervisor Clark, Marsh straps her into the chair, starting with hand and shoulder restraints. While this is going on, Clark is seen still shaking his pepper-spray bottle.

After these restraints were put on, one of these other two officers is directed by Clark to tilt the chair upward so Marsh can restrain Glass’s legs. This is done. It should be note here that Glass was not struggling at all, up to this point. However, as Marsh attempts to strap Glass’ legs, she slightly kicks out her right leg. Marsh swiftly smashes her in the face. Glass then throws two more kicks at Marsh.

Supervisor Clark, who has been periodically shaking his pepper-spray can, now gets the opportunity he seems to have been waiting for. Clark goes right for Glass’ face and sprays her at point-blank range. After initially spraying her for a few seconds, he decided he needed to hold her head steady—so he can spray directly into her face and eyes. He does this for a good six seconds.

As this is happening, Glass can be seen struggling and kicking. Not long after, a White female officer comes into the room and helps Clark, and Marsh, restrain Glass’ legs. Glass’ vaginal area—she was wearing a knee-high dress—is now exposed to Clark, and Marsh. Not long after this, another White female guard appears along with another White male guard. Glass is then wheeled out of this torture chamber by supervisor Clark. Pepper-spray discoloration is visible on her face, and hair.

The assault witnessed on this video is horrendous and invokes outrage. The manner in which it was done suggests this is a regular routine for the corrections officers at the Cuyahoga Jail. Therefore, it is not surprising that nine suspicious deaths, in a year, have happened there.

Both supervisor Clark, and officer Marsh, had been charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, interfering with civil rights and unlawful restraint. Clark was also charged with second-degree felony assault and was reprimanded for not turning on his bodycam during the assault. Ironically, Clark claimed he didn’t activate it because Glass was “compliant.”

There is a serious disconnect here. How can supervisor Clark characterized Glass as “compliant,” and still justify assaulting and pepper-spraying her? How is it someone who is arrested for a traffic violation could be assaulted in such a brutal manner?

The fifteen-day suspension of Clark is beyond being a joke. Officer Marsh’s three-day suspension seems more like a short vacation. Clark and Marsh should be fired. Sadly, corrections officers, just like police officers, are protected by government officials once they keep their abuse confined to minorities—especially, Black people. This type of systematic institutionalized abuse would not be tolerated if those attacked were White.

Glass told the online news website about her ordeal.

She said after repeatedly asking guards to make a call; and refusing an officer’s command to pick up a spoon; that “it went downhill.” She said a female guard told her “Well, I’ll just have you maced and strapped to a chair.” She eventually asked for a supervisor—not realizing supervisor Clark would be the one who would eventually oversee her assault.

Glass said Clark placed her in handcuffs, while she was in a cell, and called for backup. The first to arrive was officer Marsh. She said Marsh immediately started “roughing” her up. Glass said after she was pepper-sprayed in the torture chamber jail room “Everything was burning. I had bad aches and my eyes hurt. And I still didn’t get my phone call.”

“That day, I thought I was going to die,” Glass said. “I sat in that cell I prayed to God that I wouldn’t die because I couldn’t breathe. I prayed that I wouldn’t die there.” She added “I really can’t believe it happened.” Glass’ lawyer, Subodh Chandra, called Glass’ abuse by these Cuyahoga Jail guards “a ritual of torture.”

Events at the Cuyahoga County Jail are screaming for serious government intervention. Things are so bad there that Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Michael Nelson has decided he will no longer send non-violent inmates there. Judge Nelson was quoted as saying "Six deaths in four months? That's unsafe. Very unsafe."

In fact, Ms. Glass is probably lucky she wasn’t killed at the Cuyahoga County Jail. A couple of the suspicious deaths there have been ruled suicide. Glass escaped becoming another Sandra Bland. The 28-year-old Bland was most likely murdered inside the Waller County Jail, after she was arrested by racist former Texas State Trooper Brian Encina.

Glass’ assault by supervisor Clark, and officer Marsh, would be reprehensible in nearly any situation. But again, this woman was arrested on an outstanding traffic ticket. This makes the abuse witnessed on the video much more unacceptable. Black Ohioans should be incensed by the fifteen-day and three-day suspensions Clark and Marsh received. This is deplorable.

Black Americans must continue to fight against this sort of institutionalized racist behavior.

Some will say no racism was present in this incident with Chantelle Glass. They will say because supervisor Clark, and two other Black guards, were involved racism can’t be a factor. Of course, this reasoning is shallow and silly. Since slavery, a certain type of individualistically driven Black person has always been co-opted and used to aid in the overall oppression of the Black majority.

These selfish types will commit acts of barbarity and brutality against other Blacks to gain favors and satisfy their White masters.

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