New Philadelphia, Ohio - Tuscarawas County Sheriff Orvis Campbell is setting the record straight in response to a widely-spread rumor alleging inmate abuse at the county jail.
Campbell says he personally visited the jail over the weekend to investigate the allegations and review jail surveillance footage from the time the incident was said to have occurred.
"Saturday, I learned of these allegations. I, myself, came into the Sheriff’s Office and jail and was coordinating and overseeing that investigation, which I called in a detective and jail supervisor to conduct," he says.
Campbell says they also spoke to the two inmates that were alleged to have been beaten by the guards.
"When we talked to them, they weren’t terribly cooperative but one of them did make the actual allegation saying these two inmates were beaten by two specific corrections officers at a specific time in the morning," he says. "I guess what they weren’t counting on is last year we did a very large camera upgrade to the jail, and put in very high clarity cameras."
Campbell says they are now wrapping up the investigation, after not finding any evidence to support the inmates’ claims.
"The entire incident is fabricated. The two inmates in question were served paperwork for disciplinary charges for breaking a jail rule. They became upset and refused to lock down. So some of the allegations were that they were punched repeatedly. There were no punches thrown, none at all, and the entire incident, all the contacts with the inmates were viewed," he says.
Campbell says one of the inmates was taken to the ground during the incident, but he says the officers’ use of force was far from excessive.
"There are different ways to take somebody to the ground. You can do it violently or you can do it easily, and this was done very easily. The inmates just refused to go back to their cell when they were told," he says.
Campbell says they will be submitting a report and the surveillance footage to the county prosecutor so he can review the conduct of the corrections officers and determine whether to seek charges against the inmates for making false reports. He says they can’t release that footage to the public due to security concerns, but he has invited local media outlets including Tusco TV and WJER to attend a private viewing.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV