Sandusky County jail guard in pending suit for inmate's 2007 death

One of three Sandusky County jail guards awaiting discipline for exploiting a naked inmate on Jan. 10 is also a defendant in a pending wrongful death lawsuit.
Jessica Cuffman
Feb 4, 2012

One of three Sandusky County jail guards awaiting discipline for exploiting a naked inmate on Jan. 10 is also a defendant in a pending wrongful death lawsuit.

Frank Kaiser, 31, is one of several defendants in a federal lawsuit the parents of Craig Burdine filed in 2009.

Craig’s father, Jess Burdine, of Oak Harbor, said he wasn’t surprised to see Kaiser’s name among the three jail guards who were placed on paid administrative leave for how they treated a naked, schizophrenic woman in the jail last month.

Kaiser and guards Charlie Pump and Joshua Smith are accused of watching and taunting the naked woman for six hours while she was locked in a jail cell flooded with urine and water.

“Here he is again, messing with a poor woman that had no help and could not help herself,” Jess said. “Wow. You know what, he’s starting to show a pattern.”

Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer placed Kaiser and the two other men on paid leave Jan. 11, pending disciplinary hearings and a followup investigation by Fremont police.

In the Burdine lawsuit, Kaiser, Overmyer, other deputies and Fremont police officers are named as defendants.

Craig died Aug. 11, 2007, after he was arrested by Fremont police and taken to the Sandusky County jail.

Jess and his wife, Mardella, filed the lawsuit after a similar case in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court didn’t come to fruition.

Kaiser is a central figure in the alleged use of excessive force against Craig, said Jess.

Craig was combative when he was arrested at about 3 a.m. the morning he died. He arrived at the county jail in the back of a Fremont police cruiser.

He was intoxicated and had already been maced, so officers radioed ahead that Craig would likely be spitting and would need to be dragged from the cruiser and into the jail, according to court documents.

Kaiser and Fremont police officers carried Craig into the jail’s shower room, where they removed his handcuffs and attempted to rinse the mace off his face.

When Craig resisted, a deputy shocked him three times with a taser. Craig didn’t respond to the jolts — instead, he struggled even more, court documents said.

Kaiser and another officer then handcuffed him.

According to court documents, Kaiser then pinned Craig to the floor, using his knee to hold Craig in place until paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital.

But when Craig was placed on a stretcher and carried to the ambulance, he became unresponsive.

Doctors pronounced him dead at 4:30 a.m.

The coroner’s office ruled he died of acute drug intoxication during “drug-induced excited delirium.”

But the autopsy report also showed he suffered blunt-force trauma to his neck and his trachea was crushed, Jess said.

That injury, Jess said, is what killed his son.

The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial this summer, pending filings and other motions in the next few months, said the Burdines’ attorney, Jeff Nunnari.

Nunnari is still hopeful the Burdines will get the outcome they’re seeking.

“It’s just one of those cases that has to be tried,” Nunnari said. “Let the jury decide what the truth is.”

This legal gauntlet is similar to another pending lawsuit against Sandusky County Sheriff’s deputies.

The parents of Bryan Jones are fighting in federal court to get a jury trial in the death of their son, who deputies shot and killed in July 2010.

In the past year, attorneys in the Burdine case have taken depositions from dozens of witnesses.
Among them: Frank Kaiser.

During his May 2010 deposition, Kaiser appeared “arrogant,” Jess said.

Kaiser told attorneys he never received training specific to dealing with people with mental illnesses, according to a transcript of the deposition.

Nunnari questioned Kaiser about his training in regard to recognizing inmates who have mental health issues.

“From time to time over the years, we may have touched base on mentally ill inmates and ways to deal with them, what not, on occasion,” Kaiser said in the deposition. “But I’ve never had any formalized, actual training in it. Just going over experiences from what other training other people have had and have dealt with.”

Kaiser told attorneys he’s able to determine if someone in the jail has a mental illness, but only after observing them over a period of time.

He said he never had an opportunity to do that in Craig’s case.

In the incident last month at Sandusky County jail — where the woman was locked naked in a flooded cell — Kaiser had six hours to determine if the woman was mentally ill.

He had six hours to decide how to handle that situation.

When the 21-year-old woman was placed inside her cell, she promptly tried to flush her gown down the toilet, flooding the floor with urine and water.

Over the hours that followed, she masturbated for the guards and acted out sexually, according to a Fremont police investigation.

Investigators are still trying to determine if one or more of the guards encouraged the woman to behave in that manner, although other jail guards said one of the men admitted to watching the woman throughout the evening, according to the police investigation.

In a written statement to a jail supervisor, the woman said she is schizophrenic and had been without her medication for several hours before she was arrested.

Sheriff Kyle Overmyer’s supervisors said Kaiser has received training on jail policies and procedures through an academy that all Sandusky County deputies are required to attend.

That training would have included information about how to interact with mentally ill inmates.

Check out the PDFs below to read the Burdine family's complaint in the lawsuit, as well as arguments from Sandusky County and the city of Fremont. Also provided is Frank Kaiser's deposition.



Ties that bind

Craig Burdine died in the Sandusky County jail in 2007.

He suffered from persistent and acute fear of law enforcement officers, according to court documents.

In 1996 he was arrested in Ottawa County for driving under the influence. When he was taken to that county’s jail, he was subjected to excessive use of force by law enforcement there, according to court documents.

As a result of the trauma, he suffered physical and psychological injuries that, from then on, caused him to suffer “spontaneous and irrational hallucinations and have nightmares of being pursued, beaten and killed by the police,” court documents state.

Craig filed a lawsuit after that incident.

A jury awarded him more than $500,000 for his injuries.

Some of the defendants in his family’s wrongful death lawsuit against Sandusky County are acquaintances or friends of the Ottawa County officials named in the first lawsuit.

Sandusky County officials should have been aware of his past experiences and his fear of law enforcement, according to court documents.



All in the family

Sandusky County jail guards Frank Kaiser, Charlie Pump and Joshua Smith are on paid leave pending possible discipline for the way they treated a naked, schizophrenic inmate at the jail on Jan. 10.

The three guards all have relatives who work for Sandusky County or serve in various political functions.

Kaiser’s father is an investigator who works at Sandusky County prosecutor Thomas Stierwalt’s office.
Pump has an aunt who works for the county.

Smith’s brother is a board member for the Sandusky County Board of Elections.

None of the relationships, however, have any bearing on the investigation into the three men’s alleged actions on Jan. 10, said Bruce Hirt, chief deputy for Sandusky County Sheriff Kyle Overmyer.



Could that pic get any closer ?  Nice Fu Manchu .


so, let me get this straight.  this dude, craig, was according to a coroners report:

The coroner’s office ruled he died of acute drug intoxication during “drug-induced excited delirium.”

if his actions weren't violent then, i guess, the police would not have had to use force.  once again, let us blame everyone else but those who are ultimately responsible for the outcome of their actions.  the bottom line is if you are not a jackbutt then you should not have a problem with law enforcement.  if a jury finds in favor of craigs family then anyone that has ever had a family member killed by a weapon should, in sense, be able to sue the manufacturer of that weapon.


Crushing a person's windpipe (mentally ill or not) would be excessive force I'd say.  People arrested that are drunk or on drugs do tend to get violent but it's not necessary to kill them in the process of subduing them.  Also you can't tell me the local deputies don't know about these people beforehand and should conduct themselves accordingly if they know the people are mentally ill.  It's a small world, after all and information is shared between departments.  I am not trying to put total blame on law enforcement but in some cases, they just may be in the wrong.



Re:The coroner’s office ruled he died of acute drug intoxication during “drug-induced excited delirium.”

One could then draw the conclusion that the young man the cops shot, died from an overdose of alcohol?



Bottom line (respond however you want) I HATE COPS!

Truth or Dare

After reading this, please take the time too watch the PBS broadcast by Frontline - "Post Mortum", a 20ll Documentary.  If you're truely looking, it will open your eyes to some scarey BS!


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 "placed on paid administrative leave"

It just hits you right in the face, doesn't it?

Truth or Dare

Thank you for that jon491!  Not a computer whiz, as I'm sure you've gathered.  God Bless ya!   


"And after reading the article from the coroner's report about  this CRAIG BURDINE having BLUNT FORCED TRAUMA TO THE NECK  "AND"  A CRUSHED TRACHEA  how in GOD'S name is this NOT MURDER ???"<whatsupwiththat

  Well, it is murder. No question.

Another upstanding local LEO. This area must be in competition with Chicago, New York, and New Orleans for having the most dysfunctional officers


Maybe the acute drug intoxication was sufficient to have killed Burdine. But if he'd received timely medical intervention, might that course have been changed? Or maybe he would have survived the intoxication IF HE'D BEEN ABLE TO BREATHE. Guys, he had a CRUSHED TRACHEA. That's not something that's very likely to happen by accident when you're trying to subdue even a violent inmate! And it's certainly an immediately life-threatening injury.

What I don't understand is how a lawsuit could be underway, and a guard under suspicion of having murdered a man is still permitted inmate contact of any kind. I get that you can't assume guilt prior to it being proved, but wouldn't it have been safer for all, including the guard, if he'd been put on some kind of administrative duty? Because he wasn't, he's now allegedly involved in yet another truly appalling incident at the jail. Granted, nobody died this time. But it strikes me as a little more than coincidental that the man accused of making so much trouble before is now accused of making trouble again!

If there are witnesses to the latest allegations (and there are, because the paper has printed quotes from their testimonies), there's no way these guards should be on paid leave. They should all be fired. If they're later found innocent (doesn't sound like they will be, but I suppose it's possible), you can reinstate them. Meanwhile, I have a question:

Are guards in Sandusky County union members? Somebody besides a few relatives has got to be protecting these woeful excuses for men (and their king is Mr. Kaiser), and it sounds  like something a union would unfortunately be perfectly delighted to do.



Aren't legitimate news articles supposed to be non-biased? There's definitely a "guilty until proven innocent" tone to this article. As a disclaimer, I'm not condoning or attempting to justify the actions of any of these men. What I'm referring to is the writing style of this article is really distasteful (almost as distasteful as the alledged actions of the accused). But then again, I'm just beating a dead horse here. Anywho.


Huronres1/gilamonster... these aren't cops or law enforcement officers... They're corrections officers.


I remember when this took place, but I believe some information was not included in this news story.

 The police were called because Burdine had also thrown a person into the fire. That person suffered burns and that was covered  in articles back then by the news-mess.  I also seem to remember that Burdine charged head 1st into the basement wall or side of the house structure where this incident took place. ( I don't believe Burdine was a resident here or was "invited" to this gathering of folks.). He had 2 Felony cases still waiting to be brought to trial from 10/2005 and 10/2006, looks like they combined the two (mind you almost a year apart and they still hadn't gone to trial for the 1st one)  and he had not one, not two, but three evaluations to for competancy to stand trial, with each requested to be performed by the persons other than having done the 1st and then the 2nd evaluations. But they were dismissed because he passed away in 8/2007  NOTE: This was almost 2 years from the 1st date he was arraigned in court on 3 charges F4- Burglary, F3 Having weapons under disability, F5 possesion of crack cocaine.. The other case was an F4- assualt on a police officer. These are public records easily obtained online with the Sandusky County clerk of courts.


Sorry for the families loss, but yes there is a pattern here in Sandusky County, These folks abused Drugs & Alcohol........

Where is the report that details the neck and trachea damage?

I'm not going to defend the CO's behavior and conduct for the incident this January.

Oh, so you are saying they are one step above a school crossing guard? I thought law enforcement was a system that encompassed many; whether they have “peace officer” abilities or not.

"remember kids ...... DRUGS KILL"!


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Super Judge

but he is my baby daddy!


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 FrugalGalSpender why in your right mind would you post these pictures on here.  It shows how low of a person you are.  How would you like it if somone hacked your account and posted pictures of you.  You are such a creep and you disgust me.  This guy is going through enough as it is way to kick him when he is already down.  Why don't you get a job or something so you have something better to do than hack peoples accounts.