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Fort Myers man claims he was beaten following his arrest

By Staff | Jul 15, 2010

A Fort Myers man is claiming that he was beaten by corrections officers at the Lee County Jail and the Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
Michael Joseph Cutillo, 38, of 1631 Red Cedar Drive, Apt. 1, was arrested and charged Sunday morning with DUI and child neglect without great harm. According to Cutillo, after arriving at the jail but before he was put through the booking process, he was beaten in a private room by four male officers.
“I was beat severely,” Cutillo said.
He said it started with the officers dragging him down a hallway to the room.
“They have it on videotape,” he said. “They dragged me.”
Once in the room, one officer reportedly removed Cutillo’s hat and spit on it. He said he was told there were no cameras in the room, so there was nothing he could do. Cutillo claims he was thrown against a wall, and that one officer choked him and pushed his face against the wall.
According to Cutillo, at one point he fell to the ground and he was kicked in the side four times. The officers left him in the room until he was retrieved by a female officer, who finally took him to the booking area of the facility.
“I just want it to be known what goes on behind closed doors,” Cutillo said. “What they did to me was very wrong. It wasn’t right. I’m not saying to fire them, but somebody needs to look into what’s going on.”
After a visit to the hospital following his release from jail, Cutillo contacted the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and attempted to contact Sheriff Mike Scott about the incident. He said he was told an investigation would be conducted.
Sgt. Larry King, a spokeswoman for the LCSO, confirmed Thursday that an investigation into the incident has started.
“An investigation is under way,” he said, adding that it was initiated Tuesday.
According to King, investigators must collect statements from all those alleged to have been involved, as well as review any evidence. Then they must determine “if it need to go to Internal Affairs or if there’s any foundation to the allegations.”
No actions had been taken against the officers Thursday.
“It’s just simply gathering information at this stage,” he said.
Lt. Robyn Mitar has been assigned to the case as the investigator. Mitar is listed with Internal Affairs and she is assigned to the jail, according to King.
Cutillo said he was told the investigation may take a month or two. He added that he does not want compensation for any medical bills. During the hospital visit, there were 21 X-rays taken.
Cutillo said he has a fractured nose, a torn ligament in his side, face swelling and abrasions on his wrists and hands.
“I just want it to be known that I was wrongfully beat up,” he said.
According to King, the LCSO has received complaints before.
“We get grievances and complaints from inmates all the time,” he said.
King noted though that complaints about use of force are “very rare.”
Cutillo was charged after a Cape Coral police officer found him “passed out” behind the wheel of a vehicle in the parking lot of a convenience store in the 700 block of Del Prado Boulevard, according to an arrest report. A child was in the back seat of the vehicle, which was running and had its lights on.
The report states the officer knocked on the window and door several times with no response from Cutillo or the child, who Cutillo said was his 5-year-old daughter. When the officer opened the door, Cutillo woke up. The officer put Cutillo through some field sobriety tests before placing his under arrest.
After blowing .000 on a breath test, Cutillo told the officer that he takes Prozac and Xanax and that he is on disability. A relative took custody of the child, and the Department of Children and Families was notified of the case.
Cutillo explained that he has prescriptions for both medications, and that on the day of his arrest, he had worked 14 hours and had had little sleep. Cutillo said he parked at the store and decided to sit for a moment. Being so tired, he accidentally fell asleep and woke up to the officer opening his door.
“For some reason, they booked me because they thought they had probable cause,” he said, adding that he would not comment further. “I’m innocent.”
Cutillo has a court date set for Aug. 9, according to jail booking records.