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Corrections officer should be fired in inmate abuse case, board says

The Clark County Citizen Review Board recommended this week that a corrections officer be terminated for making an inmate face a wall for more than an hour and for later lying during an internal review.

An inmate at Clark County Detention Center alleged that officer Derrick Chandler, 40, violated department policies regarding interacting with the public, use of force, following jail rules, cruel and unusual punishment and truthfulness, according to review board records.

A Metropolitan Police Department internal affairs investigation found that Chandler was untruthful and should be terminated. But after a hearing by the department’s pre-termination board, his discipline was reduced to a 32-hour suspension.

The review board said that change in discipline was made without explanation and that it was provided with only a heavily redacted transcript of the hearing by the department.

“The Citizen Review Board cannot properly perform its important task of providing oversight with this lack of transparency,” board member Toni Witten wrote in the finding. “The public will only be left to wonder why there is a Citizen Review Board if relevant evidence is withheld by the department.”

On June 10, 2021, LeAndre Martell, who was an inmate at the detention center at the time, asked Chandler for a new face mask. Chandler told Martell to stand facing a wall.

Chandler told the pre-termination board that he made Martell stand against the wall because Martell called him “weird” and he took it “to be a slanderous term,” according to board’s finding.

According to jail surveillance video described in the finding, Chandler appeared to become upset, slapped the wall, pointed at his badge and made animated hand gestures.

Martell said that Chandler called him names in a threatening way and challenged him to fight.

Video footage appeared to show Chandler turn off his handheld radio during this interaction with Martell. Chandler told internal affairs and the pre-termination board that he was turning down the volume on his radio because it was distracting him.

Internal affairs found that Chandler turned off the radio for about 15 minutes, which matched the time of his interaction with Martell.

Chandler said he made Martell stand facing the wall as a de-escalation technique and said he did not tell his supervisor about what happened because he did not believe he was disciplining Martell.

Chandler left Martell facing the wall for more than an hour before letting him return to his cell.

The hearing panel found that Chandler’s actions were retaliatory and meant to be a form of discipline.

Officer Elian Khabro, 25, was also named in the complaint, but both the review board and internal affairs found Khabro did not violate any department policy.

The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that it does not comment on internal employee investigations and would not disclose any information on Chandler’s or Khabro’s discipline records.

The Citizen Review Board is made up of 25 citizen volunteers who review complaints made against Metropolitan Police Department officers.

Prior complaints

Chandler and Khabro have both been named in previous complaints made by the public to the review board. Khabro started working at Metro in August 2020 and Chandler in July 2017.

Last year, the board dismissed two complaints brought against Khabro that alleged he violated the department’s policy related to interacting with the public and conforming to jail rules.

According to state law, only the findings made by the board’s hearing panel can be made public. Individual complaints are not available to the public.

In 2021, the board dismissed a complaint against Chandler and two other corrections officers that alleged a use-of-force violation.

Chandler was named with five other corrections officers in a separate complaint submitted in 2021 that alleged violations of use-of-force and respect for individual rights.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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