Ohio deputy orders inmates to dance, gets fired

A northeast Ohio sheriff fired a deputy for ordering five jail inmates to dance to a song by Usher in exchange for privileges such as using a phone or microwave, the sheriff’s office said Thursday.

The deputy was accused of ordering the inmates to dance on April 11, after they were locked up in a disciplinary area, and then inviting colleagues to watch.

The Summit County sheriff’s office conducted an internal investigation after inmates reported the incident, and the 35-year-old deputy was fired this week for violating department policies by mistreating inmates, acting inappropriately and having a cellphone in the jail, apparently used to play the music.

One inmate did the worm as the deputy played Usher’s “Yeah,” while another said he did the robot so that he could use a phone to contact relatives after a family member’s death, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

“The community needs to be assured that all inmates that come through the doors of the Summit County jail will be treated humanely and with respect,” Inspector Bill Holland of the sheriff’s office said Thursday. “All allegations to the contrary will be investigated. We take these matters very seriously, and any member of our agency that does not share this philosophy will be disciplined accordingly.”

Investigators said the deputy admitted making a mistake but told them he was only trying to ease tension in the jail. He also was cited for conduct unbecoming an officer and failing to properly document why the inmates had been put in the disciplinary area.

The former inmate who reported the incident said he didn’t dance and considered it to be “a gross abuse of people’s authority,” WJW-TV reported.

The deputies who may have observed the dancing remain on the job, but the investigation is ongoing and could lead to further disciplinary measures, Holland said.

No public phone number was listed for the fired deputy, who had been with the department since 2004. A message was left Thursday with a union for law enforcement officers.

There are no blemishes in the deputy’s disciplinary file, which is expunged every 12 months under the deputies’ collective bargaining agreement, Holland said.

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