CLEVELAND– A violent outburst stunned a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas courtroom. Moments after he was sentenced, a defendant sucker punched his own attorney, knocking him out cold.
Some people, including the injured attorney, are wondering how the attack could have happened.
“I turned in to talk to him, and I just felt a swoosh and saw stars. And I remember waking up underneath the trial table,” said defense attorney Aaron Brockler, who is recovering from a broken nose and a concussion.
Brockler described it as a punch that came out of the blue. Tuesday morning, he was 42-year-old David Chislton, who was being sentenced at the Justice Center in Judge Nancy Margaret Russo’s courtroom.
“I went to go turn to tell him ‘I’ll come and see you privately to discuss what your options are,’ and before I could even get the words out, I just got sucker punched right in the side of the head,” Brockler said.
Judge Russo sentenced Chislton to 47 years in prison on nearly two dozen charges. He pleaded guilty to holding his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint, then setting the Miles Landing apartment complex in Warrensville Heights on fire, displacing dozens of families.
“While his crimes were serious, I think it was just a big number for him and he lashed out against me for whatever reason,” Brockler said.
Brockler said he believes the attack could have been prevented.
“He had the handcuffs around the front of him, so that means he had full range of motion… Down, in, sideways, typically the inmates are restrained behind their back, but from the minute he came out, he had his hands in front of him,” he said.
Cuyahoga County Administrative Judge John Russo released a statement.
“We thank the deputies and others who responded during the incident for their quick actions, and we encourage the sheriff’s department to fully review safety protocols for Court proceedings,” Russo said.
“I’m lucky that he didn’t get his hands around me and choke me out with the cuffs, or you know, he could’ve got to the judge. It’s not a good situation to be cuffed in the front, in my opinion,” Brockler said.
A Cuyahoga County spokeswoman said deputies will complete the paperwork to file new charges against Chislton related to the attack.