Alleged Victim Testifies On Day 2 Of Cuyahoga County Jail Officers' Trial

Joshua Castleberry testifies in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 18, 2019.
Joshua Castleberry testifies in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 18. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]

A former inmate at Cuyahoga County jail testified Wednesday against two guards, saying they beat him and then denied him medical attention.

Joshua Castleberry described having his head slammed into the concrete floor by corrections officer John Wilson, a member of the jail’s Special Response Team (SRT).

Dubbed the Men in Black, the SRT responds to incidents at the jail and was featured prominently in last year’s U.S. Marshals report detailing myriad problems at the jail.

Castleberry lost three teeth in the SRT incident: two fell out and the third was pushed upward into his sinus cavity. In court, he described what he was told at the hospital after the incident.

“My tooth had been broken, it was in my nose,” Castleberry said.

“And how did they get it out?” asked Matthew Meyer, the assistant prosecutor from Cuyahoga County assigned to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, which has taken over cases involving the jail.

“They pulled it out,” Castleberry said.

“What did they use?”

“A tool, like a plier.” 

Also on trial is Cpl. Jason Jozwiak, who is accused of denying Castleberry medical attention for hours after the injuries.

Jozwiak’s attorney, Scott Ramsey, claimed in court that medical attention couldn’t be offered because Castleberry was spitting blood at guards.

Wilson’s attorney, George Gerken, questioned Castleberry’s story and if the injuries he sustained could have been cause in the way he claimed.

In a statement read during his testimony, Castleberry described an encounter with Wilson that began with complaints about the jail food, followed by a question about his ID bracelet. He said the situation then escalated quickly.

“I told him where my wrist band was and as I started to tell him what my problem was, he said, ‘We can’t have that.’ And pepper sprayed me, slammed me, cuffed me, kneed me, punched me, and slammed my head into the ground,” Castleberry said.

Gerken questioned whether Castleberry turned toward Wilson while being questioned about the ID bracelet. Castleberry maintained that he kept his hands on the wall and turned only his head to speak to Wilson over his shoulder.

Gerken also raised doubts about whether the injuries Castleberry sustained could have been caused by slamming his head against a concrete floor while he was lying on his stomach.

The trial continues Thursday.

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