HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Two days before a Dauphin County inmate died in police custody, another young man said he was badly beaten by county correctional officers and a Harrisburg police officer.
Jarrett Leaman, 24, is described as a typical college student. His only prior involvement with police is two speeding tickets.
On June 29, he was arrested for public drunkenness. He says the next thing he remembers is waking up in a jail cell at 5 a.m., covered in blood, bumps, and bruises.
“Jarrett could essentially be any of us,” said Leticia Chavez-Freed, his civil rights attorney.
Chavez-Freed says Leaman was playing pool with friends when he was arrested visibly drunk but uncommunicative outside Harrisburg’s Cork and Fork.
His friends told him he was fine in the police car, but when he woke up in the booking center of the Dauphin County Judicial Center the next morning, he was covered with injuries.
“When he’s there, he is pummeled to the ground, face down on the cement floor. Multiple correction officers are on top of him,” Chavez-Freed said.
Chavez-Freed said she knows it happened because she saw it on video. As part of an ongoing internal investigation, a detective went through the security footage with her and Leaman.
She said what she saw was disturbing.
“They put him into a chair. They strap him in. His hands are behind his back and, again, the kicking, the hitting.” Chavez-Freed said.
Chavez-Freed said at least five judicial center correctional officers and one Harrisburg police officer participated in the beating. She said a spit mask was also placed on Leaman’s head, even though he was barely conscious.
“He’s docile. He’s not fighting back. He’s completely out of it,” Chavez-Freed said.
In the complaint, Chavez-Freed said at one point in the night, a police officer and a correctional officer lifted the mask from Leaman’s head to take a picture of his injuries like a “hunting trophy.” That photo has not been recovered.
“Wonderful officers do not want to be aligned with people like that. It’s got to come from the top,” Leaman said.
She wants compensation for Leaman and for District Attorney Fran Chardo to prosecute the officers involved.
In a written statement to ABC27, Chado said: “Our detectives have been investigating this matter since shortly after the occurrence. As our investigation is not complete, I cannot comment further.”
“[Leaman] wants to move forward, and we do, too, and we’re hoping Dauphin County does as well,” Chavez-Freed said.