Correctional officer charged with inmate mistreatment; Allegedly failed to report incident

Published 8:07 am Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mark Robert Morrison, 56, of Austin was charged on Monday in Mower County District Court with gross misdemeanor mistreatment of persons confined, gross misdemeanor misconduct of a public officer/employee-exceed authority and misdemeanor fifth-degree assault-inflict or attempt bodily harm.

According to court documents, an Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office detective was asked to investigate an April 3 incident at the Mower County Jail regarding a detention deputy using a chemical irritant on an inmate. The alleged victim had been found incompetent to proceed with criminal proceedings and was staying at the Mower County Jail until a suitable mental health facility could be found.

The detective reviewed two sets of surveillance footage taken at the time of the incident, one from the jail intake common area and one from the alleged victim’s cell, according to court documents. The video from the intake area allegedly showed Morrison exchanging words with the victim at his cell door. The video allegedly shows Morrison walking away for a short distance, turn back and walk to the victim’s cell, remove what appears to be chemical irritant from the pouch from his belt and spray a short burst at the base of the cell door. Footage taken inside the cell allegedly shows the victim lying on the floor with his face near the base of the cell door, then rolling on his back and putting both hands on his face with a towel.

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Morrison allegedly did not file a report of the incident as consistent with Mower County Sheriff’s Office policy and was ordered to do so, according to the court documents.

In the report, drafted on April 4, Morrison allegedly stated the victim was yelling profanity under the door and being disruptive, making it difficult for him to answer the intake phone. The report said Morrison sprayed the chemical irritant through the bottom of the door, but did not state if he offered medical attention, the victim’s response or if any decontamination efforts were made.

The detective spoke to the alleged victim, who said he was sprayed while laying near the base of the door and that it gave him a bad taste and caused him pain, according to the court documents.

The detective reviewed jail policy provided by the Mower County Sheriff’s Office and saw that Morrison had completed policy and procedure review as well as chemical deterrent usage training. On Feb. 16, Morrison documented that he reviewed a Command and Control topic covering special needs inmates.

Morrison will appear in court again on July 23.