The Utah Attorney general has filed charges against five former employees of the Daggett County Sheriff’s office for alleged abuse of inmates at the county jail.
Former deputy Joshua Cox faces 11 counts, including felony aggravated assault, weapons charges and theft.
Seven of those counts are third-degree felony aggravated assault charges for allegedly using a Taser on inmates. Charging documents state Cox promised inmates a case of soda if they could endure the stun gun for five seconds.
In a statement, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes called the allegations “unbelievably inhumane” and “reprehensible.”
Cox was also charged with two counts of transporting a dangerous weapon into a secure area of a correctional facility, a third-degree felony, as well as two misdemeanors for theft and reckless endangerment.
Charging documents allege Cox brought two uncertified police dogs to the jail. Two inmates were instructed to help train the dogs and were bitten.
Former Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen was charged with three misdemeanor counts for failing to keep inmates safe, obstruction of justice and official misconduct. Jorgensen resigned as sheriff in April.
The Utah Department of Corrections conducted the investigation. It removed 80 inmates from the jail in February, moving them to the Utah State Prison.
Corrections department Executive Director Rollin Cook said as the investigation unfolded, community members and employees who knew of abuse came forward, “expressing a need to talk about different things that were going on, or at least that they had witnessed.”
Cook said people were “fearful at times of coming forward with that information.”
Cook said inmates would not be returned to the Daggett County Jail until the Corrections Department has confidence that new jail leadership will prioritize inmate safety.