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Inmate Recounts Alleged Abuse At Jackson County Jail

Frank Morris

A taskforce aimed at addressing an alleged pattern of abuse by guards at the Jackson County Detention Center heard accusations of violence from a former inmate Thursday.

Terry Coleman is part of an ongoing FBI investigation at the jail that came to light in August, when the county acknowledged allegations of several beatings at the facility.

On Thursday, the taskforce held a public forum, where Coleman explained how he'd been transferred to the detention center on a snowy day in February 2013 on a drug possession charge.  

Coleman says he had been arrested in Kansas City, Kansas, more than two weeks prior. He says he went to the Jackson County Detention Center after being detained two weeks in Kansas, where he had been completely weaned off of a painkiller that he says a doctor had prescribed for his back.

Coleman says he explained all this to his new guards, so he was surprised when they told him to strip naked and step into a closely monitored, solitary, detox cell. He said he refused.

Coleman then alleges a guard told him to turn around and prepared to cuff him. Coleman says he turned to look at the guard.

“And that was when all hell broke loose,” recalls Coleman.

Coleman says a video camera captured the whole thing, and that FBI agents recently interviewed him about what happened next.

“He grabbed me and he slammed me to the ground,” says Coleman, referring to the first guard. “He’s calling for backup.  Back up arrived.  (They) beat me, kicked in all different places, my ankles, my legs, I got the knee in the neck, type of deal, all that stuff was going on. 

"When they finally do handcuff me they put me in the chair. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about the chair.”

Coleman says "The Chair" has enough straps to keep a person from moving at all.  He says the guards left him in it for two and a half hours.  

The FBI’s investigation into abuse at the jail is ongoing. The county isn't commenting on the criminal investigation.

Frank Morris is KCUR’s national correspondent.  You can reach him at frank@kcur.org or on Twitter @FrankNewsman.

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