Six months after he was locked up in the Will County jail on burglary and theft charges, William Jenkins said guards bashed his head against a shower stall wall before pushing and punching him during a strip search.
Six months after that alleged attack, the 29-year-old Harvey man said members of the jail's black-clad Emergency Response Team locked went into his cell and beat him so badly he was sent to the medical wing for two weeks.
Jenkins sued six different deputies—three in connection with each alleged attack—shortly after the respective incidents. And now he fears he will be killed for blowing the whistle, said his lawyer.
"That's exactly what he is alleging," said Joliet attorney John Schrock, adding that Jenkins is in "serious fear of his life."
The Frankfort police arrested Jenkins in October 2011 after he and Dolton man Ira Cunningham, 33, were allegedly caught breaking into a house on Linden Drive. Cunningham has since been convicted and is pulling a 16-year prison sentence.
Jenkins remains in jail as he case crawls through court. And Schrock says that after two beatings—the second in retaliation for taking legal action—his client is gravely afraid he will die before making it to trial.
Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas, the spokesman for the Will County Sheriff's Department, says he has not seen either lawsuit and cannot comment on pending litigation.
The first lawsuit, filed in June, says Jenkins and other inmates were herded into a shower for a strip searchg in April. Jenkins and a guard then "engaged in verbal dialogue regarding the process," and two Emergency Response Team members descended on Jenkins, knocking his head off a wall and then beating him.
The second lawsuit, filed late last month, claims members of the Emergency Response Team beat Jenkins while he was locked down in his cell. The lawsuit also says Jenkins has filed grievances with jail administration about the alleged attacks and that the grievances have been denied.
Schrock said abuse of inmates is rampant at the county jail.
"If an inmate mouths off to someone, it does not give them the right to hit them," Schrock said.
"I think it's a problem at the Will County Adult Detention Center, particularly with the ERTs," he said. "If you ask the inmates, when you see the ERTs come out, you know somebody's going to get tuned up. It's a subliminal message they're sending."