Ex-guard’s attorney suggests client was justified in pushing inmate

Ex-guard’s attorney suggests client was justified in pushing inmate

A former corrections officer at the Isabella County Jail was justified when he pushed an inmate, his attorney said, and the inmate’s fall, which resulted in a broken knee, was facilitated by his pants falling down.

Chris Cluley, fired from his job as a corrections officer at the Isabella County Jail following an internal investigation following the incident, was in court Monday for day two of a hearing to decide if he’ll stand trial for it.

Cluley was charged with one count of aggravated assault — a one-year misdemeanor — and two counts of misconduct in office — a five-year felony — last October following an investigation by the Michigan State Police. The Office of the Attorney General announced the charges and Assistant Attorney General Christine Grand is prosecuting the case.

Most of the testimony during Monday’s hearing was a cross-examination of former jail administrator Kevin Dush Jr. by John Freeman, Cluley’s attorney.

His questions appeared to build towards the conclusion that the investigation into the incident selectively targeted Cluley and was rushed. He also asked Dush whether Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main was motivated by personal feelings in asking the Michigan State Police to investigate the incident.

He also worked towards the conclusion that Cluley used justified force in pushing the inmate, asking Dush whether it was okay for a corrections officer to get physical with an inmate who dug in his heels and refused an order to go into administrative segregation.

He also raised the possibility that the inmate went to the ground in part because his pants fell down.

Freeman asked Dush about his change in rank and responsibilities within the ISCO. Grand asked Dush to get specific about it. Dush said that after four years as jail administrator, he realized that his passion in law enforcement lay with road patrols and investigations and that based on how contracts with the department’s bargaining units work, he’d make more money as a sergeant doing road patrol than a lieutenant running the jail.

In addition, Dush said that his job ended when he left a road patrol shift, whereas a jail administrator is on call, all the time.

Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Joe McMillan is expected to testify on Friday, which both sides hope will be the hearing’s final day. At the end of it, Judge Sara Spencer-Noggle will determine whether enough evidence exists to bind Cluley over to circuit court to stand trial.