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Mom of Beaten Inmate: 'It Was a Nightmare'

By Quinn Ford | February 22, 2013 7:11pm | Updated on February 22, 2013 7:46pm
  The mother of a Cook County inmate who was allegedly beaten after getting into an argument with two jail guards said Friday she was happy "justice is being served."
The mother of a Cook County inmate who was allegedly beaten after getting into an argument with two jail guards said Friday she was happy "justice is being served."
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CHICAGO — The mother of a Cook County inmate who was allegedly beaten after getting into an argument with two jail guards said Friday she was happy "justice is being served."

That comes after criminal charges were brought against Department of Corrections officers Delphia A. Sawyer, 31, and Pamela R. Bruce, 29, for allegedly ordering two inmates to beat up 18-year-old inmate Kyle Pillischafske, of Mount Prospect, last year.

In February 2012, Pillischafske was being held in the prison's mental health ward, according to federal court documents.

At the time of the alleged beating, Pillischafske was in jail on charges of aggravated battery and reckless driving. He pleaded guilty on March 13 and was sentenced to two years of probation just weeks after the alleged beating.

After getting into an argument with Pillischafske, Sawyer and Bruce allegedly ordered two inmates to enter his cell and beat him. The two guards later told authorities the 18-year-old beat himself, citing his mental issues, according to Pillischafske's attorney, Richard Dvorak.

Pillischafske's mother, Morgan Ann Pillischafske, said Friday she was glad to the guards responsible for beating her son were facing criminal charges.

"We're talking about two guards who hurt my son and used two other vulnerable people to do it," Pillischafske said. "That's the part that bothers me."

Pillischafske and her husband, Gary Pillischafske, said it was "hard enough" having their son in Cook County jail but said they believed he was safe there. They said they believed he was receiving special treatment and counseling because of his mental health issues.

Pillischafske's mother said when she saw the pictures of her son's face after the beating, she couldn't believe it.

"It was a nightmare," Morgan Ann Pillischafske said. "We're trying to put this all behind us."

Pillischafske said the news was going to be hard on her son because he was "going to have to relive it all over again." Ultimately, she said, it's good news.

"I think he's glad that it's finally happening," she said.

On Feb. 9, 2012, Sawyer and Bruce were on duty at the Cook County Jail when inmates removed a "electrical light switch plate" causing a short circuit that knocked out the power in some of the cells, according to court documents.

When Sawyer and Bruce found out what had happened they "became angry" and started "swearing at the inmates," the document said. The two allegedly got into a heated argument with Pillischafske who they believed was responsible for the power outage.

As they locked Pillischafske in his cell, the 18 year-old cursed at Sawyer and Bruce, to which they responded the inmate "would see who the bitch was," according to court documents.

Sawyer and Bruce then allegedly summoned two of the larger inmates and instructed them to beat up Pillischafske. The two officers are accused of opening the inmate's cell to allow the beating.

"They said 'Go in there and f--- him up,'" Assistant State's Attorney Nickolas Trutenko said in bond court.

Trutenko argued that Bruce and Sawyer used violent inmates "no different than a gun or a knife."

Trutenko showed the judge a photograph of Pillischafske with a bruised and swollen face and two black eyes.

As Bruce and Sawyer watched the two inmates beat Pillischafske, they instructed them to hit the 18 year-old in the body, yelling "Body shots, body shots. Don't hit him in the head," according to court documents. The two then joined in the beating, proescutors said.

Bruce and Sawyer then allegedly tried to cover up the beating by telling their supervisor the inmate's wounds were "self-inflicted, and that they witnessed Pillischafske attempting suicide in the shower by banging his head against the wall," according to court documents.

Sawyer and Bruce, who have both worked for the sheriff's office for six years, were charged Thursday with felony counts of obstructing justice, mob action, official misconduct and perjury. A Cook County judge ordered the two held on $50,000 bond Friday.

Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff's Office, said Bruce and Sawyer were placed on desk duty during the investigation. Bilecki said the investigation "proceeded swiftly" and officials decided to move forward with prosecution in the last couple of weeks.

Last May, Pillischafske filed a federal civil law suit against Sawyer and Bruce, as well as Cook County and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Pillischafske's attorney, Richard Dvorak, said the federal judge in the case recently recommended both parties settle.

Dvorak said a case of inmate guards abusing their power would "bother anyone," but he added it was especially troublesome given Pillischafske's "vulnerability."

He said the criminal indictment "sends a strong message" and he is glad the state's attorney's office took the allegations seriously. Dvorak said it was "awful" Sawyer and Bruce took advantage of the fact that Pillischafske had mental health issues, especially when it came to their alleged explantion of Pillischafske's injuries.

"You can't beat your own face into a bloody pulp," Dvorak said.

In a prepared statement, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart reacted to the charges announced Thursday.

“It is a shame that officers like this bring disgrace to those who work so hard under difficult conditions,” Dart said in a statement.
Morgan Ann Pillischafske said Friday she agreed with Dart's thoughts.
"It's true," Pillischafske said. "All I want to say is justice is served, and hopefully it sets an example so nobody else gets hurt."