Body cam video shows now-charged Ohio CO kicking 'docile' inmate's arm

A Cuyahoga County Sheriff's detective said it appeared the CO kicked the inmate "for no reason," and that the inmate was "docile" at the time


By Adam Ferrise
Advance Ohio Media

CLEVELAND — Body camera video released Wednesday shows a Cuyahoga County Jail officer kick an inmate’s arm through a food chute door in his cell several times.

The video showed officer Jermaine Clements engage in a back-and-forth with the inmate, with the two hurling insults at one another before Clements without warning delivered several sharp kicks to the inmate’s arm as it hung through the small slot in the cell door.

The inmate, Gregory Nelson, later said he thought the kicks broke his arm. Cuyahoga County has not released any information about the extent of Nelson’s injuries.

The county released the video more than five months after cleveland.com’s initial request.

Clements is charged with first-degree misdemeanor assault in the Dec. 17 incident. He entered a written not guilty plea July 16 via on online waver in Cleveland Municipal Court, but the court has not set his next hearing.

The county on May 16 suspended him for 15 days without pay for the incident. He remains a corrections officer with no change in his employment status, even after criminal charges filed on June 2, Cuyahoga County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said.

A Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s detective who investigated the incident wrote in court records that it appeared Clements kicked Nelson for no reason and that Nelson was “docile” at the time.

Clements is a member of the jail’s Special Response Team, a group known as the “Men in Black” because of their paramilitary gear. A November 2018 U.S. Marshals Service report detailed that members of the unit routinely abused and threatened inmates.

The group responds to emergencies in the jail, including inmate on inmate attacks, but on the day of the incident, Clements was passing out food because the jail was understaffed, according to county records.

The video shows Clements talking with Nelson through his cell door. Much of Nelson’s side of the conversation is not picked up by the body camera microphone.

Nelson told investigators he put his arm out of the door to get Clements’ attention to ask to speak to a supervisor to ask for someone to clean his cell, according to county records and the body camera videos.

Clements at different points told Nelson “You’re going to get fed like everyone else, I’m not going to open the door,” “Man, do you think I’m worried about you,” and “Man, I’m not f-----g with you, you young broke sucker.”

He told Nelson to move his hand kicked him about two seconds later. Clements kicked Nelson’s arm five times, as Nelson repeated: “This (expletive)‘s on camera.”

The video also refutes the statements Clements gave to investigators: that Nelson threatened to throw urine and feces on him, and that he acted “belligerent.” Clements also claimed Nelson grabbed him through the food chute, but the body camera video shows that didn’t happen and that he tried to push Nelson’s arm back through the chute before kicking him.

A report written by Associate Warden Phillip Christopher said that Clements’ actions were “excessive and unnecessary” and that Nelson posed no immediate threat at the time Clements stomped Nelson’s arm.

Jail medical staff treated Nelson, and officers later place him in an isolated cell reserved for discipline, the records say. He remains jailed on $150,000 bond on charges of felonious assault, discharging a firearm and having weapons under disability.

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©2020 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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