CO suspended for releasing inmate was previously fired, rehired after prior mistake

The CO was previously fired for her role in an earlier incident in which a suspected burglar was mistakenly released in 2019


By Adam Ferrise
Cleveland.com

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County officials disciplined two corrections officers last week for their roles in mistakenly releasing one of two inmates on the same day.

Officer Kathleen Belle received a three-day suspension and Sgt. Joe Kelly received a written warning. Cuyahoga County spokeswoman said discipline is pending for a third officer, whom she did not name.

Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association attorney Adam Chaloupka did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Belle was previously fired for her role in an earlier incident in which a suspected burglar was mistakenly released in 2019. The county reversed her firing after the OPBA argued the firing was unfair.

Belle and Kelly received their punishment for the Oct. 19 release of Bernard Moore, who faces a charge of improperly handling a gun in his car, according to records released Friday by the county. He previously pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Disciplinary letters provide little detail of what led to the mistaken release. Both say Belle and Kelly started the process of releasing Moore without thoroughly reading his arrest report.

A third officer, Jacqueline Billups, also could face discipline for the release, but timing issues delayed her disciplinary hearing, Madigan said.

Madigan said an investigation is on-going into the mistaken release of a second inmate — David Barnes, who was accused of possessing a weapon with a felony record — on the same day as Barnes’ release.

Barnes is scheduled for arraignment in his case on March 29.

The two mistaken releases are among 10 inmates since 2018 released by jail officials despite judge’s orders that they remain jailed. The most recent incident happened on Feb. 9, when a suspected drug dealer was released. Madigan said officials are investigating what led to that mistake.

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(c)2021 The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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