Cook County Correctional Officer Charged After Surveillance Footage Shows Him Repeatedly Hitting a Man in Custody

The Cook County Jail in Chicago is seen here on April 30, 2020. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images)The Cook County Jail in Chicago is seen here on April 30, 2020. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images)

(CNN) — An Illinois correctional officer accused of beating a man in custody has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct, authorities said.

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The Cook County Sheriff’s Office this week released surveillance video of the September 2022 incident, which shows a man speaking to the officer and another guard before the officer, identified by sheriff’s office as 44-year-old Richard Smith, begins punching the man.

Smith appears to punch the individual even after he falls to the ground.

A few more unidentified correctional officers enter the room within a minute, and at least one of them also punches the man, who is still on the ground. After a few seconds, some of the officers move to break up the incident.

An internal investigation determined: “Smith struck an individual in custody more than 30 times in the Jail’s Residential Treatment Unit,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

According to agency, the man, 24, was treated for his injuries. His name wasn’t released by the sheriff’s office.

After an investigation into the incident, “Smith, who has been employed with the office since 2010, was de-deputized,” according to the news release.

“Excessive or unlawful force is not tolerated,” Sheriff Thomas Dart said in the release. “Those who engage in this abuse completely disregarded their training, and they disparage the hardworking men and women who keep the jail safe and secure.”

The news release adds the sheriff’s office “will seek to suspend Smith without pay and will recommend his termination to the Sheriff’s Merit Board.”

The sheriff’s office “presented the case to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for charging, which approved aggravated battery and official misconduct charges, both class 3 felonies,” the news release stated.

Smith turned himself in and appeared in court Tuesday afternoon, where a judge set his bond at $50,000, according to sheriff’s office.

Smith was not listed in custody at the Cook County Jail Friday. CNN was unable to determine whether Smith has an attorney.

Cook County correctional officers are represented by the Teamsters Union.

“While we do not comment publicly on specific individuals under investigation, we stand behind our membership,” said Teamsters Local 700 president Ramon Williams in a statement. “We urge the Cook County Sheriff’s office to partner with us to address the longstanding challenges that our members consistently face within the jail to promote a safe environment for everyone.”

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