COOK COUNTY, Ill. — A 6-foot-5, 325-pound Cook County correctional officer allegedly punched an inmate in the face and then told the inmate that if he didn't tell others he swung first, the officer would tell superiors that the man tried to escape.
Rico Palomino, who also submitted false reports as to why he resorted to violence in the incident June 16, struck the inmate so hard the man crashed to the floor and bled profusely from his mouth, assistant Cook County state's attorney Lauren Freeman said.
The 20-year-old victim was in the receiving area of the jail being processed for misdemeanor charges of violating an order of protection and criminal trespass when he walked up to a desk and asked Palomino where the inventoried property was stored so he could look up a phone number, authorities said.
As the inmate started walking away, Palomino, 40, allegedly told him to return to a holding area and stated, "If you don't get back over here, I am going to f--- you up."
Palomino then hit the 5-foot-9, 260-pound man in the face without any provocation, prosecutors said.
Another inmate witnessed the punch and the 12-year veteran was allegedly caught on the jail's video security system, prompting an investigation by the sheriff's office.
Still, Palomino submitted a series of false reports saying that he used a "palm strike" to create a safe distance after the inmate "turned around abruptly" and grabbed his shirt or tried to, Freeman said.
The inmate suffered "jagged lacerations" and had to receive stitches in his mouth.
Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. ordered Palomino held in lieu of $10,000 bail Thursday.
Palomino, who was arrested Wednesday night on charges of official misconduct, has been stripped of his police powers and has been suspended with pay pending an internal hearing, sheriff's spokesman Frank Bilecki said.
Neither Palomino nor the union for sheriff's officers could be reached for comment.