Deputies responsible for death of Erie County inmate to pay $1 million each

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The five deputies responsible for the death of an Erie County inmate while he was in custody in 2012 have been ordered by a jury to pay the family of the man $1 million each.

Richard Metcalf was strangled and severely beaten by officers while being held at the Erie County holding center after he was arrested for allegedly breaking into a catering business in Depew that he worked at.

The $5 million in punitive damages is on top of the $95 million that was already awarded to the man’s father earlier this month, which is being paid by Erie County. The $95 million is the largest civil judgement against the county ever, after the jury found the county and the deputies liable for using excessive force. The five deputies, which includes current and former deputies, gave testimony on Tuesday morning as to their financial status. Tuesday’s verdict was unanimous.

Following his arraignment, a state report in 2016 indicated that officers placed a “spit mask” on him and after he chewed through it, a pillowcase was tied loosely over his head. The report states that the mask was so tight that it required scissors to remove but by the time it was cut off, he had stopped breathing and his heart had stopped. He died two days later. According to the report, he was also beaten by deputies while in custody.

The county medical examiner ruled Metcalf’s death a homicide as a result of acute and subacute myocardial infarction, meaning he died of a heart attack caused by an outside force.

It remains unclear if there is an indemnity agreement between the deputies in the county.

Erie County officials are reviewing the options to pay for the civil case and one of the options is a possible tax increase. The county is expected to appeal the judgement.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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