Grand jury will weigh jail assault case 2nd complaint involving Howard officer, inmate

December 03, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

A second assault complaint against a controversial Howard County Detention Center supervisor has been sent by the county state's attorney's office to the local grand jury for consideration of criminal charges -- two months after grand jurors decided to prosecute the supervisor on charges of beating a handcuffed inmate at the jail.

In the latest complaint, the jail supervisor, Capt. Thomas V. Kimball of Baltimore, is accused of assaulting Lamont Donald Adams, 27, of Columbia when he was an inmate.

Adams was wearing handcuffs during the scuffle at the jail Feb. 2, according to Kimball's written report of the incident. Kimball told jail officials he suffered a knee injury in the scuffle and later filed and won a workers' compensation claim based on that injury.

Kimball, 48, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges that he assaulted Michael Alexander Saukas of Ellicott City, who alleges that he was handcuffed during a fight with Kimball Feb. 24 at the jail. At the time, Saukas was serving a 14-month sentence at the jail for violating his probation.

No trial date has been set in that case.

After the grand jury's decision in the Saukas case, Kimball, who had been overseeing almost half of the jail's 99 correctional officers, was removed from his post and now performs administrative duties.

Kimball, who declined to comment yesterday, has been at the center of several controversies at the Howard jail since May, when inquiries by The Sun revealed that he was not a certified correctional officer. He has since earned that certification, but then the assault allegations were filed.

"I'm concerned," County Executive Charles I. Ecker said yesterday. "I don't condone, I don't want to put up with any undue actions by guards. From my review of the records, there doesn't seem to be anything there, but we'll wait to see what the grand jury says."

Kimball is accused of assaulting Adams after the inmate refused return to his cell, according to jail incident reports. Adams was leaving the jail's medical unit and began arguing with jail Officer Joseph K. McCusker, telling him that he did not want to go back to his cell, jail reports claim.

McCusker requested assistance over his radio, and Kimball and several officers responded.

In his report, Kimball said that he grabbed Adams twice after the inmate was ordered to return to his cell, trying to forcibly direct him to his cell. The second time, Kimball said, Adams fell to the floor and he fell on top of the inmate. Several other officers then fell on top of Kimball and Adams.

At a news conference last month, James N. "Buck" Rollins, director of the Jessup jail, said no questions were raised about Kimball's handling of the Adams incident until October, when an anonymous caller to Howard County police alleged that the officer used too much force in handling the inmate.

During the news conference, Rollins said he thought the anonymous call had come from the jail and that the caller was an underling who doesn't like Kimball because he is a tough supervisor who believes in following the rules.

Pub Date: 12/03/96

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