Some inmates did the worm, others chose the old school robot. Each dance was performed to the beat of hip-hop artist Usher on command from a now-fired Summit County deputy.
The inmate prize: use of a jail microwave.
The charges are revealed in an internal affairs report released Wednesday. Deputy Dominic Martucci, 35, was fired for violating the department’s policies, including a mandate that inmates be treated humanely.
Martucci is accused of ordering five inmates dance to Usher’s Yeah! song and then inviting other deputies to watch during an early evening shift on April 11. The inmates danced their way to regaining use of a microwave that they had lost earlier that day.
Another inmate won the right to use the phone and commissary items for his old-school robot dance routine. Martucci blared the music from a smartphone, the report said.
“I did what I had to do so I could use the phone,” the inmate told investigators. A family member had died and he needed to contact relatives, he said.
At one point, Martucci signaled a fellow deputy to watch the dance.
“Stop and watch this, it’s going to be funny,” he said, according to the report.
One inmate said as many as five deputies looked on during the dance. They were also looking to make sure a supervisor was not nearby, investigators said. The inmate said some dancers were rewarded with commissary items, but not him.
The inmate was told he “messed up” and faced a trip to the hole. The inmate alleged Martucci demanded he dance “one minute to my liking.” The inmate was eventually let out of lock down, the report shows.
The allegations came out through an inmate’s memo to a sergeant sent days later.
“[Martucci] told the inmates that if they wanted out of lock up and the microwave back, that they would have to dance for him,” an internal affair report noted. “He let out the [five inmates] and told them to entertain him by dancing...”
Martucci was suspended April 23. This week, Sheriff Drew Alexander fired the deputy on departmental charges of mistreating the inmates, misconduct and having a cell phone in the jail.
An appeal is expected, but neither Martucci nor a union official could be reached for comment Wednesday. Alexander was not available for comment.
“The community needs to be assured that all inmates that come the doors of the Summit County Jail will be treated humanely and with respect,” said sheriff’s spokesman Bill Holland. “All allegations to the contrary are thoroughly investigated. Any member of our agency that does not share this philosophy will be disciplined accordingly.”
In his defense, Martucci told investigators he forced the inmates to dance in order to regain day room privileges lost earlier in the shift. The inmates did not touch each other.
During the internal investigation, investigators said Martucci admitted his actions were wrong, but that he intended only to “lighten the tension” in the jail pod.
Another deputy who saw the dancing said the inmates were laughing during the song.
Martucci tenure with the department has been marked by controversy. In 2006, he was accused with four other deputies in the 2006 death of jail inmate Mark D. McCullaugh Jr. After one deputy was acquitted of murder, charges against Martucci and three other deputies were dismissed in September 2008.
Martucci’s father, Frank Martucci, is a retired Akron police officer and ran unsuccessfully in March as a Democratic candidate for sheriff.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or email@example.com.