More testimony heard in case of former deputy jailer accused of inmate’s death

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 9:20 PM EDT
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BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) - The trial resumed Thursday for Brad Roberts, a former deputy jailer at the Boyd County Detention Center charged with the death of an inmate.

Roberts is the first former guard to stand trial. Four former guards at the Boyd County Detention Center (BCDC) are accused of the 2018 death of inmate Michael Moore, 40.

Testimony began on Thursday with Maj. Gus Guzman of the BCDC, who worked as a records keeper at the jail.

The prosecutor and the defense both focused their questions surrounding the surveillance video shown during Guzman’s examination.

Dashcam video from the Ashland Police Department shows the arrest of Moore by the department. Moore was arrested for public intoxication and believed to have been high on Baclofen, a muscle relaxant, according to the testimony of the arresting officer.

The video goes on to show Moore became agitated and began erratically. When Moore arrived at the jail, deputy jailers “believed he could hurt himself or others” and placed him into the restraint chair for safety reasons.

The alleged abuse, according to the state, primarily happened in the booking center of the jail on the night of Nov. 27, which was when five former guards were working that night.

Video shows Moore’s head shoved into a concrete wall inside the booking center. It also shows a video of the deputy jailers during the night shift, taunting Moore as he had a spit mask over his head.

The surveillance video showed a scuffle between Moore and some of the guards where he’s body slammed into the floor before being strapped into the restraint chair.

Moore appears to be struggling and fidgeting in the restraints overnight into the early hours of the morning. During the dayshift, Moore is seen sitting in the restraint chair, and as deputies give him a break from the chair, the video shows his ankles being grabbed to strap him in, instead of the deputies stepping on his feet.

Guzman said the procedure and protocol for using the restraint are when there is concern someone is either at risk for self-harm or harm to others.

The jurors were shown a poster that hangs on the wall in the booking center of the BCDC near where the restrain chair is kept. Reading off a poster Guzman said a person can only be held in the chair for two hours at a time and could not be held longer than 10 hours without medical supervision.

Restraint chairs, according to Guzman’s testimony, are used when an individual may cause harm to himself or others.

During Guzman’s testimony, he also went on to say no one was “formally trained” on how to use the chair, besides on-the-job training.

Video from inside Moore’s cell shows him falling out of his bunk bed and believed to have had a seizure, according to testimony.

Moore lies on the ground for some time before deputy jailers arrive and walk him outside the cell. Moore falls to the ground and appears too weak to walk. The video shows the deputy jailers sliding him on a sleeping mat down the stairs.

Video from the next day shows Moore was alert just after 6 a.m. and back in the restraint chair. According to testimony, Moore was placed back in the chair and wore a helmet as a precautionary measure from falling out of his bunk.

Moore became unconscious, and the deputy jailers began CPR on him until the medics could arrive.

Both the prosecutor and the defense went into extensive questioning surrounding how deputy jailers are trained.

Defense attorney Michael Curtis alluded to the BCDC’s lack of job training, asking witnesses on the stand who worked at the jail for a reason why and most of them answered there was a heavy reliance for “on-the-job training” in their field.

Charles Layne, a training officer at the BCDC, testified the exact types of training deputy jailers went through. Deputy jailers are required to complete use-of-force training, de-escalation, and weapon training.

Roberts had completed all state-required training and BCDC training at the time of the incident.

The day ended with testimony from a former deputy jailer employed in 2018 at the BCDC and who worked dayshift. He recalled Moore was non-combative and cooperative during the daytime hours.

The trial will resume Friday.

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