Fired guards charged with cuffing inmate to shower
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Two Pennsylvania county jail guards have been fired and charged with handcuffing an inmate to a shower stall for more than 30 minutes as they threw boxes, toilet paper rolls and rubber gloves filled with water at him.
Criminal complaints against Michael Antonio, 40, and Stephen Richard Smith, 49, indicate eight inmates and four other jail staff saw the inmate handcuffed to the shower on Oct. 19. The jail’s security cameras also captured part of the encounter.
The defendants both live in New Castle, where the jail is located about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Neither has a listed phone number and neither appeared with an attorney when they were arraigned Wednesday. Court records don’t list attorneys for either defendant.
“This type of behavior for the jail guards is not something that will be tolerated,” Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa told the New Castle News (http://bit.ly/1ytDzTE). “We have a responsibility to treat (inmates) humanely and with dignity. Anything less says more about our inhumanity than theirs.”
Lamancusa said jailhouse informants first provided information. The prosecutor abstained from the county prison board vote to fire the guards because he knows things about the case he could not share with the board.
The guards’ alleged motive isn’t clear, but Lamancusa told The Associated Press Thursday that evidence will show the guards had targeted the inmate during prior stays at the jail.
Online court records show the inmate, Steven Tedrow, 24 of Ellwood City, has an extensive criminal record dating to 2008 for crimes including robbery, drug possession, prowling and assault. He had three arrests earlier this year, before he was charged and jailed again in August.
In the last case Tedrow is awaiting trial on charges that he raped and imprisoned a woman at a hotel for several days in March. The woman told police that Tedrow choked her and hit her with a belt, and either tied her up or wouldn’t let her out of his sight. He also allegedly threatened to harm her family if she didn’t submit to his demands.
According to the complaints against the jail guards, Smith handcuffed Tedrow to a shower rail shortly after 2 p.m. that day and the guards pelted him with water balloons made from rubber gloves, and other items, after first taunting Tedrow.
“Aw, you’re here again ... we got something for you today,” the guards told Tedrow. After both guards put on rubber gloves, Antonio approached the inmate and said, “How’s it feel Tedrow?”
The inmate assumed the guard was talking about his handcuffed wrist, according to the complaint.
Tedrow has since been moved to the jail in neighboring Mercer County.
He told county detectives that Smith and Antonio often joked with him, but said the guards refused to release him from the handcuffs. At one point, Tedrow said he fell after being struck by one of the water balloons and was “kind of” scared during the incident.
Surveillance video and other evidence indicates Tedrow was cuffed in the shower for 37 minutes. Another guard arriving for his 3 p.m. shift made Smith and Antonio release Tedrow, according to the complaints.
Antonio told the oncoming guard that he had a “surprise” for him but, according the complaint, the oncoming guard “flipped out” and told Antonio to release the inmate.