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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2007

Youth testifies against 2 sheriff's deputies

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When Jacob Sanford first encountered Lucas County sheriff's Deputy Troy Jackson, he was returning from a hearing in Juvenile Court, struggling against the handcuffs that were restraining his wrists and the staff members who were trying to subdue him.

Yesterday, the teenager sat in a different courtroom and told a U.S. District Court jury about the assault he said then took place after being placed in Deputy Jackson's custody.

Jacob's account of what happened inside the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center on Jan. 20, 2005, started off the second day of testimony in the federal trial against Deputies Jackson and Marc Odoms.

The two men appeared in U.S. District Court in Toledo yesterday, each charged with violating the teenager's civil rights as well as obstruction charges.

Deputy Jackson is accused of assaulting the handcuffed teenager several times in the face.

Deputy Odoms is accused of failing to intervene.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division questioned Jacob as well as staff members of the Juvenile Justice Center about what precipitated Jacob's injuries, which included swelling and bruising to his left eye, face, and neck.

Jacob, who was 15 at the time of the alleged assault, has said that he was knocked to the ground by Deputy Jackson, brought into a holding cell by both deputies, and then repeatedly hit in the face.

In opening statements Monday, prosecutors called the actions an "abuse of power."

Defense attorneys said both men were, in fact, trying to restrain a combative youth and that the teenager head-butted Deputy Jackson before being brought under control.

Deputy Jackson's attorney, Dominic Vitantonio of Cleveland, asked the government witnesses if any had seen the actual interaction between Deputy Jackson and the teenager.

Those who testified, which included both detention center staff and sheriff's deputies, said they had not.

Instead, some saw the incident as it started to unfold in the Justice Center's intake area while others were called to tend to Jacob's injuries.

Cincinnati attorney Clyde Bennett, who is representing Deputy Odoms, pointed out that Jacob's initial written statement regarding the incident never mentioned the involvement of a second deputy.

However, in court yesterday, Jacob said that a second deputy was involved.

The trial resumes today, with Judge Jack Zouhary presiding.



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