Prosecutors charge jail officer with beating a violent inmate who headbutted him in the mouth

CHICAGO — By all accounts, Edward Abrams can be an extremely violent man. He received 42 months in 2016 for striking a correctional officer in the head at the Illinois Youth Center-Kewanee.

Last May, he was sentenced to twelve concurrent 9-year prison terms for a string of attacks he launched on Cook County jail workers while he was awaiting trial for robbery. Judge Stanley Sacks handed him another six years for the robbery charge.

Three months later, a Livingston County judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of striking a Pontiac Correctional Center officer in the head.

Abrams is serving one of his 9-year sentences for headbutting Cook County correctional officer Brendan Kelly in the mouth, knocking him to the ground as Kelly was leading him to his cell, on May 19, 2022.

Kelly, 46, received a cut inside his mouth, experienced balance issues and head pain, and was treated for post-concussion syndrome as a result of the attack, according to a summary shared with CWBChicago.

Edward Abrams (L) and Brendan Kelly | Illinois Department of Corrections Cook County sheriff’s office

This week, Cook County prosecutors opened a new chapter in the Abrams saga with a plot twist: They filed felony charges against Brendan Kelly, saying he responded to the headbutt by launching an attack on Abrams, striking him in the head some 30 times as Abrams was handcuffed on the jailhouse floor.

During an initial hearing on Tuesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Jonathan Ross said Abrams headbutted Kelly in the face as he was being unshackled outside his cell. Kelly fell to the ground, and two other correctional officers who were assisting Kelly took Abrams to the floor.

With the two officers on top of Abrams and Abrams’ hands cuffed in front of his body, Kelly stood up and began striking Abrams in the face, Ross alleged in a written proffer provided by the state’s attorney’s office.

Kelly “delivered approximately thirty different strikes — including both elbow strikes and closed fist punches — to the front and back of Victim’s head,” Ross wrote in the proffer. Even after “several” other correctional officers arrived to help hold Abrams down, Kelly continued to strike Abrams in the head, said Ross.

Abrams sustained a cut to his face and blunt head trauma during the assault, which was caught on video, according to the proffer.

Prosecutors charged Kelly, a sheriff’s office employee since May 2005, with aggravated battery and official misconduct. Judge Ankur Srivastava released him to await trial but ordered him to surrender his firearm owner’s license and weapons to authorities, according to court records.

“The Cook County Sheriff’s Office identified this case, conducted a thorough investigation, and pursued approval of felony charges from the State’s Attorney’s Office against Deputy Kelly due to his egregious and unacceptable use of excessive force against the victim,” a sheriff’s office spokesperson said Wednesday.

“Deputy Kelly has been de-deputized since the beginning of the criminal investigation, and the Sheriff’s Office will be seeking his termination before the Merit Board, the independent body which adjudicates significant cases of employee disciplinary action,” the spokesperson continued.

With good behavior, Abrams will be paroled on August 16, 2034.

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About Tim Hecke 330 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is