Affidavit details alleged assault by Maine State Prison officer against inmate

David Cutler
Knox County Jail
David Cutler
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 21, 2013, at 12:28 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A captain at the Maine State Prison pulled the legs out from under an inmate whose hands were cuffed behind him, causing the prisoner to fall, according to an investigator’s report used to charge the officer with assault.

David J. Cutler, 54, of Appleton was arrested and charged Wednesday afternoon and released later that day on $1,000 unsecured bail from the Knox County Jail in Rockland.

Cutler’s initial court appearance is scheduled for April 8 in Rockland District Court.

An affidavit written by Maine Department of Corrections investigator Joseph Fagone was filed in Rockland District Court and released Thursday, detailing the events that led to the alleged assault.

According to the affidavit, Cutler and a Cpl. Reynolds — no first name given — brought prisoner Renardo Williams to the office of Sgt. John Howlett in the activities section of the Maine State Prison on Christmas Eve. Cutler said that he had brought Williams into the office because the inmate had been causing a disturbance in the gym during a holiday get together, according to the report.

Cutler then ordered Williams, who had his hands handcuffed behind him, to sit. Williams refused saying it was his free will to decide whether to sit or stand, according to the affidavit.

Cutler raised his voice and again ordered Williams to sit, saying “you will do what I say when I tell you,” according to a statement from Sgt. Howlett to the department investigator.

Howlett told the investigator that he could not believe Cutler then pulled Williams’ legs out from under him. The sergeant also told Fagone that the prisoner had not been acting aggressively or threateningly.

Williams fell on his back and was injured, although the report does not detail the extent of the injuries.

Williams has another eight years to serve on a drug trafficking conviction and has since been transferred to the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

Cutler is on administrative leave.

The Department of Corrections has not returned telephone calls or emails left this week.

The assault is a Class D offense punishable by up to a year in jail.

The Maine Department of Corrections acknowledged earlier this month that its decision in January to remove Patricia Barnhart as warden at the Maine State Prison was based on management problems that included the number of incidents reported at the facility.

Barnhart was informed Jan. 10 by Commissioner Joseph Ponte that she was being replaced as warden and she has not been at the prison since that action. She is to retain the warden title and pay through Feb. 28, however, and is expected to start her new job as policy development coordinator for the corrections department on March 1.

The Corrections Department released statistics last week showing that the number of incidents such as assaults at the prison in Warren has been above average during the past several months. The incident reports listed assaults against staff and assaults by inmates against other inmates.

Judy Garvey, a member of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, pointed out Wednesday, however, that corrections department statistics fail to list assaults against inmates by staff.

She said assaults against inmates by staff are more common than reported publicly. Often, Garvey said, staff accused of such assaults are placed on administrative leave and no other action is taken.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/21/news/midcoast/affidavit-details-alleged-assault-by-maine-state-prison-officer-against-inmate/ printed on July 28, 2014