Sheriff’s Investigation Leads to Charges Against Correctional Officer

Apr 18, 2023Press Release

COOK COUNTY, IL – A Cook County Sheriff’s Office investigation has led to aggravated battery and official misconduct charges against a correctional officer for an incident that occurred at Cook County Jail, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

Over a decade ago the Sheriff’s Office installed cameras throughout the jail to ensure the safety and security of staff and individuals in custody. Additionally, the Sheriff has put several processes in place to identify any instances of excessive use of force or misconduct. In this case the misconduct was immediately identified as part of this process by a jail supervisor reviewing the cameras. The supervisor then referred the incident to the Sheriff’s Office of Professional Review (OPR) for investigation.

Richard Smith, who has been employed with the office since 2010, was de-deputized following the incident and removed from working with individuals in custody while the criminal investigation was pending.

According to the investigation by the Sheriff’s OPR, on Sept. 20, Smith struck an individual in custody more than 30 times in the Jail’s Residential Treatment Unit. The 24-year-old individual in custody was treated for his injuries.

The Sheriff’s Office presented the case to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for charging, which approved aggravated battery and official misconduct charges, both class 3 felonies.

Smith, 44, turned himself in to OPR investigators this morning and appeared in bond court this afternoon, where a judge issued him a $50,000 D-bond.

The Office will seek to suspend Smith without pay and will recommend his termination to the Sheriff’s Merit Board.

“Excessive or unlawful force is not tolerated,” Sheriff Dart said. “We have instituted a nationally recognized system to help prevent such abuse and prosecute it when it happens. Those who engage in this abuse completely disregarded their training, and they disparage the hardworking men and women who keep the jail safe and secure.”

The public is reminded that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the government in a court of law.