Former corrections officer accused in jail beating allowed to keep vacation

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS – The former corrections officer first exposed on FOX 2 in a shocking jail video got a surprise gift from the courts – she got to keep her overseas vacation. Demeria Thomas had a hearing Wednesday and FOX 2 was there to see if she’d returned from her trip.

Thomas is charged with felony assault for what happens in the jail video. It happened this past March inside the St. Louis Justice Center. The video shows Thomas meeting with two inmates at her podium. Thomas, on video, then pushes a button to open another inmate’s door. The inmate inside the cell is then seen on camera being beaten.

Despite the felony charge Thomas faces, she’s not in jail. In fact, court records show her attorney Terence Niehoff asked the court for “permission to travel to Puerto Rico on April 18-22 for a previously scheduled and paid vacation.” The judge granted the motion.

Civil rights attorney Mark Pedroli told us today, “Wow. I couldn’t believe it frankly. My client is in his cell, languishing, unable to go back and see the doctor, which is what the ER doctors ordered him to do and, meanwhile, the person who’s responsible for the attack on him gets to go on vacation?!”

Pedroli represents the beaten inmate. He says he’s never seen a defendant in a case like this allowed a vacation.

“If you’re a government employee and you’re accused of committing a crime and you’re prosecuted by the government are you are you given a little extra leeway in order to do things that the average person isn’t?” he said.

Pedroli says his client suffered a broken jaw, a broken nose and had teeth knocked out- yet the former corrections officer is seen on camera closing the victim’s cell door after the attack.

A police report says the victim did not see a doctor until two days later when another staffer saw cuts and bruises on the beaten inmate’s face. Pedroli says his client still hasn’t gotten the appropriate medical follow up – three months later.

“The jail has prevented him from returning and see this doctor he was ordered to see three days after his visit to the ER,” Pedroli said.

The former corrections officer’s attorney maintains the video does not show his client doing anything criminal. Terence Niehoff adds Demeria Thomas is back from vacation and will be at her next court date July 13.

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