Former inmate sues sheriff’s department after jail fight

GREENFIELD — A former inmate at the Hancock County Jail is suing the local sheriff’s department after he was beaten by a fellow inmate and permanently disfigured, according to a court filing.

Jordan Ellis, who was serving time in the facility last year, says officers put him in danger when they mistakenly placed him in a cell block with a fellow detainee he’d previously been separated from, according to a complaint filed in Hancock County Superior Court 1.

That inmate battered Ellis, causing serious injuries that he’s now seeking payment for, according to complaint filed recently by his attorney, David Thompson of Indianapolis.

The fight happened in April 2016; Ellis was serving time after pleading guilty to burglary, records show.

Thompson writes in the filing that the sheriff’s department “failed to adequately and appropriately monitor and supervise” the inmate who harmed Ellis; and “failed to adequately staff the Hancock County Jail,” and therefore failed to protect the former inmate, according to court documents.

Though the filing does not give details of the fight, Ellis spoke to the Daily Reporter in June to share his story for an article that explored the sheriff’s department’s fears that overcrowding at the local jail was causing increased violence behind bars.

Ellis told the Daily Reporter the other inmate – whom he did not name at the time and who is not named in the lawsuit — cornered him in his cell and beat him.

He said he needed two surgeries to repair a broken jaw.

At the time of the interview last year, Ellis was being kept in a single cell for his own safety.

Now, he’s suing the sheriff’s department and accusing officials of negligence.

In the court filing, Ellis’ attorney argues that jail officers knew the other inmate “posed a risk and threat” to his safety.

Ellis is seeking damages from the sheriff’s department, though no monetary amount is detailed in the claim. The payment would cover the personal injuries and “permanent disfigurement” Ellis suffered in the fight, according to court documents.

Hancock County Sheriff Mike Shepherd declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Thompson also declined to comment. His partner, Indianapolis attorney Robert King, who also will represent Ellis in the case, could not be reached for comment.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.