Former Ohio CO sentenced for assaulting inmate during riot

John Hinkle fractured inmate Malcolm Cox’s jaw and left a hole in his mouth during a 2018 riot started by rival gang members


Lawrence Budd
Dayton Daily News

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio — A former guard at Lebanon Correctional Institution was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for felonious assault on an inmate during a riot at the prison in Sept. 2018.

Judge Timothy Tepe told John B. Hinkle, 52, he would consider early release for the veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officer for almost 10 years in Ohio.

“I do want to offer your family some hope and perhaps you some hope,” Tepe said during the hearing in Warren County Court.

Hinkle fractured inmate Malcolm Cox’s jaw and left a hole in his mouth with his P-24 baton in the assault in a hall of the prison after a fight between rival gangs in the recreation yard that had spread into other parts of the prison.

A surveillance video played during the two-day trial showed Cox, 24, stand up and move behind the guards and handcuffed inmates clustered along a wall in the prison.

Cox moved out of the way of fighting inmates, knelt behind the guards and inmates and spit toward the inmates, after Hinkle had come out of an office.

The video then showed Hinkle turn from the other inmates and guards toward the handcuffed Cox and strike him from behind in the head with the baton issued to correction officers.

At the time of the indictment, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell called it possibly the first and “by far the most egregious” guard-on-inmate assault his office had handled since he took office more than eight years ago.

In a memorandum to Tepe; friends, former colleagues and Hinkle’s lawyer, Jon Paul Rion, urged Tepe to recognize Hinkle’s military reserve service, including deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a decade as a corrections officer.

Hinkle has been treated since December 2018 for Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to a letter from a social worker at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati.

On Thursday, Rion emphasized that the assault occurred during “chaos” of one of the worst incidents in the prison’s history.

Assistant County Prosecutor Steven Knippen downplayed the security hazard during the trial and called Thursday for a “significant” prison term.

On Thursday, Hinkle said he wanted to apologize to Cox.

“I hope you would remember the situation we were in that day, not as an excuse, but just as a consideration,” Hinkle added in his statement to the judge.

Hinkle faced up to eight years in prison, but could have been sentenced to probation.

He gets credit for 48 days in the county jail since Oct. 1, when he was convicted of two counts of felonious assault on an inmate.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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