NORWICH, N.Y. — The Chenango County Sheriff said his office reviewed video from the county jail after a woman made claims in an Ithaca court that she was abused by corrections officers. He said there was no evidence of wrong doing.
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“I’ve gone through it several times,” Sheriff Ernest R. Cutting said. “There is absolutely nothing in any of the videos.”
Ashley Pitre, 24, said Nov. 20 at Ithaca City Court that three officers retaliated against her for making a compliant and slammed her head into several walls, pulled her hair and hurt her shoulders by lifting her handcuffed arms up too high.
She was under oath when she made the claims and told that she could face a felony perjury charge and seven years in jail if her statements were falsely made.
She voluntary opted to speak out against three officers she says assaulted her.
Cutting, however, said that after reviewing video footage of the Oct. 30 cell search — the only one he says Pitre was subjected to while in custody — no evidence of wrong doing by officers was seen.
Pitre said in court that the assault happened during a cell search but she did not clarify what day it happened.
Cutting said the only time officers and Pitre were out of the video was for about 50 seconds while they took her out of her cell — the result of cameras not being pointed directly into inmates’ cells.
He said the video then shows that the officers took her to a shower area, holding her by her bicep so she wouldn’t fall down a set of stairs. The strip search, which was conducted by a woman in private, is part of protocol.
“It’s just a safety thing we do to make sure there’s no contraband,” Cutting said about both searches.
He said the video shows the woman being escorted by two guards, not three, and at no point do they hit her head unto a wall.
He confirmed that Pitre did appear to be hunched over at the waist for a few seconds while walking — but it was unclear why she was walking that way. She said that was necessary because officers pulled her handcuffs up too high.
Pitre also said her cell was the only one searched that day, but the sheriff said two other cells in the same area were also searched as part of the six cells searched every morning at the jail.
Cutting said Pitre’s was searched because she committed an inmate violation when she tied her hair up with a bra while exercising.
Cutting said he understands that some jail safety protocols can seem invasive to people who have never been incarcerated, but protocol such as cell searches and strip searches are necessary for the safety of inmates and officers.
“Maybe being a young person she’s not used to that, but then again you’re in jail. It’s a different world,” Cutting said.
He said he would be willing to review more video of Pitre’s time at the jail if she claims the assault happened at a different date or time, which she has not done publicly as of Tuesday morning.
Pitre did not return request for comment from The Ithaca Voice.
Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride has previously said that no complaints have been filed at his office from Pitre.
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