Former Hamilton County Jail Deputy Indicted for Unreasonable Use of Force by Federal Grand Jury

Former Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Mize faces federal charges for allegedly pushing an inmate into a wall at the county justice center in 2016, breaking his hip.

May 17, 2018 at 11:09 am
click to enlarge The Hamilton County Justice Center - Photo: Nick Swartsell
Photo: Nick Swartsell
The Hamilton County Justice Center

Former Hamilton County Sherrif's Deputy Jason Mize of Cincinnati has been indicted by a federal grand jury for unreasonable use of force, the U.S. Attorney's Office of Southern Ohio announced today.

That indictment, handed down yesterday, stems from an August 2016 incident in the Hamilton County Justice Center, when Mize allegedly pushed 61-year-old inmate Mark Myers into a wall at the jail and left him bleeding in his cell. The incident was caught on the jail's security camera.

"While the victim was in medical intake, Mize allegedly approached the victim from behind and told the individual to stand," a news release about the indictment states. "It is alleged that Mize then pushed the victim towards a holding cell, shoving the victim with such force that the victim collided headfirst with a concrete wall. The victim suffered bodily injury, including lacerations to his scalp and a leg fracture."

The official charge against the former deputy — deprivation of rights under the color of law — is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Mize was picked up by FBI agents today, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. Angela Byers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cincinnati office and Ben Glassman of the U.S. Attorney's Office of Southern Ohio office announced the indictment. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Megan Gaffney and Ebunoluwa Taiwo are prosecuting the case.

The county settled a lawsuit Myers filed for $500,000 earlier this month, though Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil did not admit liability for the incident. That suit was the second filed against the county in relation to Mize. The first, filed against him and other deputies in 2010 for an incident just five months after he started at the jail in 2008, resulted in a monetary settlement from the county. Mize violated use of force policies at least four times, a 2017 investigation found, including one 2013 incident in which he repeatedly kneed an inmate in the head.  Mize received a three-day suspension for that incident. Sheriff's office officials referred Mize's behavior toward Myers to the Hamilton County Prosecutors Office, which declined to present an indictment. Mize resigned from the Sheriff's office in February 2017.

Former Hamilton County jail head Major Charmaine McGuffey, who also recently sued the county for alleged discrimination, says that her complaints about the way Myers and other inmates were treated contributed to a major demotion and her eventual departure from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Myers was arrested for misdemeanor theft charges after he walked out of a Columbia Township Home Depot without paying for $120 in lighting equipment. He was later acquitted on those charges. Myers said he paid for the lighting online, but that a computer error at the store didn't show his payment.