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Authorities: sheriff deputies had inmate beaten for insults

Updated: February 22, 2013 5:54PM

Two Cook County Jail officers were free on bond Friday after being charged with having an inmate who allegedly insulted them beaten by two larger inmates.

Correctional officers Pamela Bruce, 29, and Delphia Sawyer, 31, are charged with felony official misconduct, perjury, mob action and obstruction of justice, according to the State’s Attorney’s office.

On Friday, Judge Edward Harmening ordered each held on a $50,000 bail, according to the state’s attorney’s office. Both posted bail shortly after their bond hearing, sheriff’s office spokesman Frank Bilecki said.

On Feb. 9, 2012, Bruce and Sawyer were working as partners in Tier 2C of the maximum security Division 10 when some of the inmates removed the electrical light switch plate and caused the power to short out in some of the cells, according to court documents.

A source said the man was attempting to start something on fire to light a cigarette.

Guards investigated and figured out who the three inmates were who caused the power outage, according to court documents. Bruce and Sawyer ordered two of the suspects into their cells and found the third taking a shower.

They ordered the 18-year-old man out of the shower and escorted him to his cell, court documents said. The officers and the man began arguing, but other inmates convinced him to enter the cell without any physical confrontation.

Once inside the cell, the man called Bruce and Sawyer “bitches” and “hoes,” according to court documents. The guards told the inmate he would see who the bitch was, then went back to their command post.

A short time later, Bruce and Sawyer summoned two of the larger inmates from Tier 2C and told them to go beat the man who had insulted them. They escorted them to his cell and let the larger men inside, court documents said.

The larger inmates beat the man in the face and head, according to court documents. Bruce and Sawyer allegedly watched the beating and yelled, “body shots, body shots. Don’t hit him in the head.”

Bruce and Sawyer then entered the cell and joined the beating by hitting the man with their radios and kicking him in the side, authorities said.

The beating lasted three to five minutes, then Bruce and Sawyer allegedly handcuffed the beaten man and announced to all the other 47 inmates “this is what happens to you mother------s when you step out of line. You disrespect us, we disrespect you” as they took him for medical attention, according to court documents.

The victim was in jail for crashing a car into another motorist on purpose in December 2011. He was later convicted and sentenced to probation, records show.

The guards told supervisors the man’s injuries were self-inflicted and they saw him attempting to commit suicide in the shower by banging his head against the wall, court documents said. They also filled out paperwork with the same story and later told it to a grand jury, authorities said.

More than 60 people, including inmates, were interviewed in the sheriff’s investigation of the incident.

Bruce, of the 0-99 block of East 87th Street; and Sawyer, of the 8700 block of Covington Drive in Justice, have been correctional officers since 2006, according to the sheriff’s office. Both were arrested without incident.

Harmening ordered the women to surrender their firearms, ammunition and FOID cards, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

“It is a shame that officers like this bring disgrace to those who work so hard under difficult conditions,” Sheriff Tom Dart said in a prepared statement.

Bruce and Sylvester will be back in court on March 15.

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