Investigation into Butler Co. jail abuse case finished, sent to prosecutor

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:00 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 9:03 PM CDT
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POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KAIT) – The investigation into alleged abuse by Butler County Jail employees is now in the hands of the County Prosecutor.

Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs requested the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control to investigate an incident at the Butler County Jail captured on video. The Missouri Highway Patrol said it turned the investigation over to the Butler County Prosecutor to determine if criminal charges should be filed.

The investigation began after a former Butler County Jail corrections officer spoke out after the video he recorded of alleged inmate abuse inside the jail created an online firestorm and resulted in two employees being placed on administrative leave.

According to Jesse Allen, the video was recorded in January while he was working in the jail’s control room when he observed what he believed was inappropriate conduct by his fellow officers in what he called the “Dry Cell”.

In a social media post, Allen described the actions of the officers in the video as a brutal assault against an inmate who was beaten “as well as hit with a zip tie or small cable of some kind in the head twice by, at the time, the assistant jail administrator.”

“He [the inmate] was fully shackled, hands cuffed (sic) to his waist and leg shackles on,” Allen wrote. “They undid all his shackles just to beat him for doing nothing more than (sic) refusing to be quiet after I asked and then told him to be quiet and stop talking to his girlfriend outside of the courtroom in the lobby.”

Allen provided the video to Region 8 News in March, and since then, multiple Freedom of Information Act Requests have been sent to the Butler County Jail regarding the video and the allegations.

In all the responses provided by Chief Deputy Wesley Popp, the department explicitly said no video of an incident existed.

In an e-mail response follow-up to Anchor and Investigative Reporter Chris Carter on May 3rd, Sheriff Mark Dobbs described the incident seen in the video, called the video “illegally obtained” and said, “Allen did nothing to assist fellow officers dealing with the combative offender who only had one handcuff on during a very long struggle. Allen did not present any concerns about the incident or the video or any other concerns to anyone during his time of employment.”

When asked why he did not intervene in a text message to Carter on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Allen said, “The CO [corrections officer] that was in the control room told me to watch the control room while he went in there. I was in charge of the control in which I could’ve gotten fired for leaving cause I literally controlled all the locks and doors.”

In his May e-mail, Dobbs said, “the incident and the conduct [of the employees] involved has been dealt with.”

Three months later, the employees have since been placed on leave.

An e-mail was sent to Sheriff’s Dobbs Wednesday about the investigation, and the changes since the May 3rd correspondence has gone unanswered.

Allen is facing a misdemeanor charge for bringing a prohibited item into jail.

According to Allen, he provided a letter to an inmate. In his May e-mail to Carter, Sheriff Dobbs said, “the video you speak of was made as an insurance policy of sorts by Allen who feared his improper activity would soon be discovered.”

Dobbs told Region 8 News’ sister station KFVS that he is taking the situation very seriously, adding he is assessing the actions of a corrections officer and an investigator shown in that clip.

Calls made by Region 8 News to the Butler County Prosecutor have not been returned.

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