Former Lorain County Jail guard Marlon Taylor was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison for beating former jail inmate Jordan Sand in 2012.
Jack Bradley, Taylor’s lawyer, said he had hoped for a lesser sentence, but U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson wanted to make an example of Taylor for other corrections officers and law-enforcement officials who might be tempted to abuse their authority.
“She said she was giving him one month for each strike that she saw Marlon make on the video,” Bradley said. “She saw 18 blows.”
He said Taylor had taken responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to a federal charge of deprivation of rights under color of law.
Taylor, a longtime corrections officer, was helping another jail employee distribute medication when the then-18-year-old Sand refused to take his antidepressants.
An angry Taylor ordered Sand to gather his things because he was taking him to “the hole,” according to audio recordings of part of the incident. Taylor, 50, can also be heard cursing at Sand, who was serving out a juvenile sentence at the jail, and repeatedly saying “I dare you” to the inmate.
Video showed the two men pass through a security door and Taylor slam Sand against the glass of a security control room.
They then walked away from the control room and began talking. On the video Taylor can be seen punching Sand, driving him back against a wall and a bench before Sand fell to the ground. He curled into a fetal position as Taylor continued to strike him.
The beating lasted about 30 seconds before other guards arrived and took Sand away.
Taylor, who was fired by Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti, initially told investigators that Sand had threatened to fight him, but in court documents filed before the sentencing prosecutors indicated that Sand hadn’t taken any aggressive action.
“(Sand) had not made any aggressive movements and his hands were at his sides when the defendant began his assault,” prosecutors wrote. “As the video shows, the defendant then struck (Sand) repeatedly with his hand and elbow, knocking him to the ground. (Sand) remained in a defensive posture and did not strike or attempt to strike the defendant at any time.”
But Capt. Jack Hammond, who oversees the Lorain County Jail, wrote in a letter to Pearson that he thought Sand shared some of the blame for the incident.
“There were no serious injuries sustained by the victim and while the actions of Marlon Taylor were not and are not justified, the victim is not without responsibility in my opinion,” Hammond wrote. “This young man is unfortunately typical of many of the young men that are incarcerated by our society today. Disrespectful, challenging, defiant, without guidance and no respect for the laws of society or those in the position of authority.”
Hammond and several other supporters urged the judge to give Taylor probation. Hammond wrote that Taylor has lost his livelihood, may lose his house and has been the subject of negative public opinion because of the case.
“Being involved in the Criminal Justice System for many years, if the tables were turned and Mr. Sand had been the aggressor and Mr. Taylor the victim, would Mr. Sand have paid the same price for those actions?” Hammond wrote.
Prosecutors had urged a sentence of between 12 and 18 months in prison and U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach said in a news release that Taylor needed to be held accountable.
“The vast majority of law enforcement officials do a great job,” Dettelbach said. “When someone abuses the power and privileges of their office, however, they can and will be held accountable.”
Bradley said Taylor, who will report to prison at a later date, has two weeks to decide whether he will appeal the sentence.
Sand, who was paid $50,000 to settle a lawsuit against Lorain County, is on probation for an unrelated robbery conviction for an incident in which he was armed with a knife.