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Mid-Michigan corrections officer charged with assault against inmate

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Isabella County
The Michigan state attorney general is charging an Isabella County sheriff sergeant with assault for allegedly fracturing an inmate's knee at the Isabella County jail.

Michigan’s attorney general has charged a mid-Michigan corrections officer with two felonies after the officer allegedly pushed an inmate to the floor and fractured his knee last year.

The attorney general said Isabella County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Cluley was the administrator in charge of the county jail on April 12, 2020, when he grabbed an inmate, spun him around, pushed him into a cell door and later pushed him to the ground. Video shows the inmate “cried out in pain upon crashing to the floor,” the AG’s office said.

The incident happened while the inmate was being transferred between jail cells, spurred by a “verbal disagreement between the inmate and another corrections officer,” according to the attorney general.

Cluley’s attorney, John Freeman, said using force is sometimes part of the job of a jail officer.

“Corrections officers deal with disruptive persons all the time. Sometimes, to do their job effectively and appropriately, they need to resort to the use of physical force,” Freeman said.

The charges also appear to be politically motivated, said Freeman. Some of the allegations against Cluley don’t typically carry felony counts, he said.

“That certainly suggests to me that there’s an effort to advance an agenda to vilify law enforcement.”

Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main said in an email that he placed Cluley on leave while state police investigated Cluley’s actions, and the sergeant has since been fired.

“The employee never returned to the jail or building in any capacity from the point of initial reports of the incident to the day of termination,” Main said.

The sheriff said the investigation showed Cluley’s behavior was “egregious,” and showed “systemic failure.”

After arraignment this week, Cluley was released on $21,000 bond. His next hearing is set for October 14.