For Immediate Release: 3/8/18
Baltimore — Sergeant Chance Hellum, a correctional officer employed by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) was convicted of second degree assault and misconduct in office for attacking an inmate.
Assistant State’s Attorneys (ASA) Laura Sambataro and Michael Hudak of the Major Investigations Unit (MIU)prosecuted the case.
According to evidence presented at trial, on September 21, 2016, Sgt. Hellum was assigned to the transportation area at the Baltimore Central Booking Intake Center(BCBIC). The victim, an inmate being housed at the facility, walked past Hellum toward a set of closed doors. Hellum called the inmate back, and as the inmate walked past Hellum, Hellum struck the inmate in the face. Hellum then choked the inmate while another correctional officer subdued the inmate from behind. Hellum proceeded to strike the inmate two more times in the face while the inmate was held from behind.
“A prisoner’s well-being is entrusted to the care, discipline, and supervision of correctional officers, who are entrusted with a great deal of autonomy that should not be abused,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “The public has a reasonable expectation that these officers will not exploit their authority over the inmates left in their care. However, if and when they do, we take assaults inflicted on inmates by correctional officers very seriously, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
A few days after the incident, authorities at the BCBIC received an anonymous tip regarding the assault. Surveillance video taken on the date of the attack captured Hellum assaulting the victim.
Detective Sgt. Cristian Boodhoo of DPSCS initiated and conducted the investigation of the allegation as part of the City Corrections Investigative Unit (CCIU). ASA Sambataro said it was the last case Detective Sgt. Boodhoo’s unit charged before his untimely death in a car accident in August 2017.
“Our officers take an oath to carry out the department's mission, which includes protecting all individuals in our custody,” DPSCS Secretary Stephen T. Moyer said. “When an officer fails to live up to that promise, we will work with our law enforcement partners to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and prevent them from tarnishing the badge of our almost 6,000 dedicated correctional officers. We would like to thank our law enforcement partners and the citizens of Maryland for assisting us with our ongoing efforts to keep our communities outside and inside the fence safe places to live and work."
Hellum faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for the count of assault in the second degree and 19 years for misconduct in office. He is scheduled for sentencing on March 27, 2018.
“Public officers acting within their official capacity wield an extreme amount of power,” said ASA Hudak. “When those officers violate the public’s trust, they will be held accountable.”
The CCIU was created to combat corruption in local and state correctional facilities within Baltimore City. MIU prosecutors work with CCIU investigators and other officials within the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to identify and prosecute correctional officers and civilian employees of correctional facilities engaged in criminal conduct related to the performance of their duties.