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Westmoreland County commissioners consider settlement to former inmate who claims guard beat him

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County commissioners are expected to approve a payment to a former jail inmate to head off a potential lawsuit claiming he was beaten by a guard at the facility two years ago.

Commissioners will vote to pay Sheldon Pinnock $7,500 at a meeting Thursday morning.

Pinnock, 26 of Arnold claimed he was attacked by guard David Simms when he was being booked into the county jail on May 26, 2011.

Solicitor R. Mark Gesalman said Pinnock contended he argued with Simms about money during his intake. Simms pulled Pinnock across a desk and beat him, Gesalman said.

Pinnock sustained minor injuries in the assault, according to Gesalman.

“The corrections officer was suspended and there was an attempt to dismiss him,” Gesalman said.

Human Resources Director Chuck Dominick said Simms' firing was overturned by an arbiter in April 2012, who determined the guard should keep his job because he was a longtime county employee and had no prior record of poor job performance.

Dominick said Simms, who served more than eight months on suspension, did not get credit for back pay while he was off the job.

Pinnock's lawyer, Fran Murrman, did not file a lawsuit in the case. Murrman said he could not comment on the case, citing a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

Ed Yankovich, vice president for the United Mine Workers of America, the union that represents guards at the jail, defended Simms.

“We don't believe Dave was guilty of excessive force and we stand by our decision to fight his termination,” Yankovich said.

Warden John Walton said Simms was back on the job, working a regular shift as a guard.

Pinnock has since been released from prison, according to Murrman.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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