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Former corrections officer charged for causing death of Richland County Jail inmate in 2019

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Posted at 6:44 PM, Dec 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 19:38:23-05

RICHLAND COUNTY, Ohio — A former corrections officer is now facing felony charges over an inmate’s death.

Alexander Rios died back in 2019 after being subdued by several officers in the Richland County Jail.

News 5 Investigator Sarah Buduson started reporting on this story two years ago. Uncovering video of the incident played a crucial role in learning what happened.

Now former Richland County Corrections Officer Mark D. Cooper is charged with three felonies, including two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of reckless homicide for causing Rios’s death.

In the early morning hours of September 19, 2019, 28-year-old Rios was booked into to the Richland County Jail on an outstanding warrant.

Less than 24 hours later, he was on life support.

Supervisor o’dell:03 “rios, i’m going to need you to calm down so we can…”

Rios: “no, you were supposed to let me go this morning.”

Just before midnight, a supervisor began recording video on a handheld camera after Rios refused to get down from a divider.

Moments later, his plan to restrain Rios went wrong. When corrections officers opened the cell door, Rios escaped.

Almost immediately, five officers restrain him. Then, a female officer encourages them to use more force.

They use their Taser on him twice. Then an officer punches him in the head.

About 2 minutes and 45 seconds into the video recording, an officer whose right foot is on Rios’s shoulder lifts his left foot off the ground. The full weight of his body is on Rios’s back for seven seconds.

At some point Rios loses consciousness. No one notices until it’s too late.

“He’s turning blue. He’s turning blue. You hear me?” one officer can be heard saying in the video.

The father of two never regained consciousness.

Now a special prosecutor found former corrections officer Mark Cooper recklessly caused Rios’s death and has filed charges.

Rios's family sued Richland County in federal court. They ended up reaching a settlement for $4 million.

Cooper is no longer with the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

In a statement, the sheriff wrote that Rios's death was "a tragedy, regardless of whether thoughtful people disagree about the reasons for this loss,” but gave us no information about when Cooper left the department or why.

RELATED:

A Fatal Five Minutes — Man’s family wants answers after Richland jail video shows critical moments before his death

A Fatal Five Minutes: Prosecutor questions 'excited delirium' in Richland jail death

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