Retrial Underway For Ex-Corrections Officer Charged In Ohio Inmate's Death

MANSFIELD, Ohio (AP) — Jury selection has started in the retrial of a former corrections officer charged in the death of an inmate at a county jail in northern Ohio.

Mark Cooper faces a reckless homicide charge and two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The charges stem from Cooper’s alleged role in the September 2019 death of Alexander Rios, 28, at the Richland County jail. Cooper's first trial last November ended in a mistrial when jurors could not reach a verdict.

Jury selection started Monday and was expected to continue Tuesday. The Ohio attorney general’s office is now prosecuting the case, after the first trial was handled by the Medina County prosecutor's office.

Rios fell unconscious during a struggle with guards and after being shocked with a stun gun in September 2019, authorities have said. He died at a hospital eight days after the confrontation, which was captured on video shot by jail staffers.

The video begins with a guard telling Rios to step down from a partition inside his cell and warning that he would be placed in a restraint chair for his own safety. Guards rush in when he refuses. Rios then runs from the cell and is quickly tackled. Five guards, including Cooper, pile on him as another officer not seen in the video says, “tase him.”

One of the guards presses his fist into the side of Rios’ head and punches him several times. Rios appears to lose consciousness about 4 minutes into the video. A minute later, a guard says Rios “is turning blue” as they try to place his limp body into a restraint chair. The unseen officer then radios for an ambulance.

Rios had been arrested on a warrant and jailed the day before the confrontation on a charge of illegal conveyance of drugs onto the grounds of a government facility.