CLEVELAND — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has obtained exclusive video from inside the Cuyahoga County Jail showing what happened after the latest incident that led to the death of an inmate.
The jail has made headlines for months due to inmate deaths, severe overcrowding, deplorable conditions and shortages of corrections officers.
This video shows the scene late last year after investigators say Brenden Kiekisz tried to hang himself. He got rushed to the hospital, and he was pronounced dead days later.
Hours after the incident inside the jail, security video shows an inmate wrapping a blanket around his neck making a choking motion, other inmates refusing to go back in their cells and corrections officers rushing in to keep control.
We showed the video to the mother of an inmate housed in that same section of the jail.
Incredibly, she spotted her son in the middle of the scene.
She said, “Somebody has to get in and straighten something out.” She also said her son has talked to her about what’s been going on in the jail and the inmate deaths.
She added, “Thank God it wasn’t him. Thank God it wasn’t him. The conditions that they have to go through are terrible.”
Brenden Kiekisz became the 8th Cuyahoga County inmate to die.
The I-TEAM also showed the video to the union for corrections officers. Jail guards have become increasingly concerned about inmates trying to send a message after big incidents.
Dan Leffler of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said, “But there seems to be a little more discontent and refusal to follow the orders.”
The problems with staffing and other things have been building for years.
The I-TEAM has obtained documents showing that, way back in 2012, a union leader tried to get the county inspector general to investigate. And, year after year, even in recent months, the union has filed grievances over short-staffing.
In short, the county has often responded with, “We’re working on it.”
Leffler added, “So the inmate population is going up and the corrections officer staffing is going down. We would like to see a sense of urgency.”
The county has promised to fix the problems in the jail. In fact, Thursday, the county announced sweeping plans to improve medical care for inmates.
However, no firm timetable has been announced for when significant jail improvements will be completed.
For now, that video, is an eerie sight for the mother of the inmate in the middle of this.
“They’re still human beings. Regardless, they’re still human beings,” she said.