Cleveland, OH — Cuyahoga County taxpayers will shell out $180,000 this week to settle a lawsuit brought by former children housed in the juvenile detention center—who were forced to fight each other for the officers’ entertainment in some sort of child fight club.
According to the lawsuit and the video, the officers would pit two children against each other in what they referred to as “Fight Nights.” This was a long standing tradition inside the juvenile detention center, according to the suit.
Luckily, for the victims, at least one of the fights was caught on video and served as evidence showing the officers chuckle and laugh as the kids tore each other apart. In the disturbing video, one child is seen throwing a punch and then body slamming another child before jumping on top of him.
Another video showed officers locking the children in a room and forcing them to fight until only one of the kids emerged victoriously.
“They were encouraging it for their own entertainment. We don’t know if they were gambling among themselves, but if you look at the video there was a lot of laughter. This was their Friday night entertainment which, as human beings and plaintiffs attorneys, we found this to be egregious behavior,” said Thomas Perotti, one of the attorneys representing the juveniles.
Indeed, these kids were in the system to ostensibly get “rehabilitated” but instead, they were forced to fight in some club for the officers in some sick desire for entertainment.
“Incarceration or detention doesn’t give the government any right to tell the people who are in their custody [to fight]. So, this was just such an outrageous set of events that it demanded action and it demanded the only appropriate route to go,” said David Malik, another of the attorneys involved.
According to FOX 8 Cleveland, because the case was settled before discovery, attorneys said they could not really determine how many other inmates were involved or for how long the activity had taken place.
The suit did however reference the “good old days when nurses assisted in the cover up of fight nights by providing covert medical assistance.”
To cover up their criminal behavior, according to the suit, the officers instructed the kids to avoid hitting each other in the faces.
“The primary purpose of juvenile justice is to rehabilitate, and when I saw what was going on I was aghast. I was like, this can’t be happening. This is like 50-years-ago and this is happening in our back yard and this is only what we know about,” said Perotti.
Although both guards involved in the videos have resigned, neither of them reportedly faced any criminal charges.
Also, as part of the settlement, the county has scheduled a meeting in which the juvenile inmates can confront the other officers in the facility to let them know how this insanity impacted their lives, both physically and emotionally.
Sadly, officers running a fight club in prison is not an uncommon situation—including child fight clubs.
As TFTP reported earlier this year, an officer from Broward County, Florida was caught smashing in the face of a 14-year-old boy. A subsequent report exposed the fact that the officer had been accused of also running a child fight club.
According to the Herald,
Andrew was one of several detained or incarcerated youths who told investigators, their parents or the Herald that officers incited teens to fight each other. Often, the youths said, teens would be offered honey buns, hamburgers or other treats as a reward for attacking another youth, records showed. The beatings that followed often were called “honey-bunnings.”
Despite these accusations, no investigation was ever conducted into the alleged club and the officer who broke the face of the skinny 14-year-old boy was ruled justified in his actions.