Prison captain arrested for reportedly assaulting inmate

By Juliette Laaka | Feb 21, 2013
David Cutler.

Rockland — A Maine State Prison corrections captain was arrested Feb. 20 for assaulting an inmate in December, according to a police affidavit.

David J. Cutler, 54, of Appleton was detained and charged with class D assault following an investigation by the Maine Department of Corrections.

The victim, Renardo Williams — an inmate in the prison — reported the incident Dec. 27, and said he had been assaulted by Cutler in the office of Sgt. John Howlett in the activities building on the prison grounds in Warren.

Williams said on the morning of Dec. 24, he was brought to the office by Cutler and another employee because they said he was causing a disturbance during a holiday get-together in the gym.

In the office, Cutler ordered Williams to sit, but Williams declined to do so, and said he preferred to stand.

Cutler told Williams to do as he was told or he would "make him sit." When Williams refused to sit a second time, he reported that Cutler reached behind his knees and pulled his legs from under him, causing him to fall, according to court documents.

The victim was handcuffed behind his back and the fall caused injury, he said in the affidavit.

The incident was witnessed by Howlett, who was typing reports, and said the victim was not being aggressive toward Cutler and confirmed the scene Williams described.

Cutler was released on unsecured bail Feb. 20. He is expected to appear in Sixth District Court in Rockland April 8.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at

Comments (14)
Posted by: stanley jefferson quinn | Feb 24, 2013 13:58

I worked for MSP for 2 1/2 yrs in the medical dept.  Although this alleged action sounds a bit aggressive, the same rules that apply on the outside do not apply behind those doors nor would they be appropriate. I worked with Capt Cutler and he was always fair, professional and compassionate in a very highly charged and aggressive environment.  I am hoping for the best, fairest outcome for Capt. Cutler and his family.  

Posted by: Julia Libby | Feb 24, 2013 08:24

Who cares you broke the law buddy and should lose your rights.

Posted by: James M Thomas | Feb 24, 2013 03:49

I am always surprised by the degree to which commenters will post opinions with absolutely no actual knowledge of the situation.  Here's what I know from working many years with both of them:

1.  Both John Howlett and David Cutler are good men with many years  of excellent professional service as Correctional Officers and Supervisors (in my experience).

2.  At MSP, above all else correctional staff are expected to be honest, especially in written reports which almost always follow these incidents.  Moreover, in a situation such as described, the reports would be mandatory.

3.  Prisoners have the right to complain about mistreatment, and the complaints are investigated.  Each year there are staff fired for mistreating prisoners.  Provocations by prisoners are no excuse. Mistreatment of prisoners also result in lawsuits at the taxpayers' expense.  The right thing to do for staff and prisoners is for staff to adhere to policies and law in all cases, an impossibility in each and every one of the thousands of interactions over time each CO has with prisoners.

4.  There is often a very fine line between ethical management of prisoners and mistreatment, and in many situations the line can be quite unclear.  It is part of the daily stress of being staff at a prison.

5.  I would like to hope that Capt. Cutler is cleared of these charges after a careful review of facts by an objective judge.  It would be a loss to MSP if Capt. Cutler lost his job or if Sgt. Howlett were somehow blamed or shunned by his peers for telling the truth of how he saw it.

Posted by: James Smith | Feb 23, 2013 15:34

Sounds like the process has started for the prisoners to run the prison. Way to go management!

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Feb 23, 2013 09:22

I don't believe these inmates should be abused but workers should not have to put up with their adolescent behavior either. We are at a time when a law abiding citizen has less rights then any other group. If you don't want your legs pulled out from under you stay out of prison. We support these inmates not the other way around.

Posted by: Charlotte Davenhill | Feb 23, 2013 07:03

Why not be honest here? We support bullying. Because pulling the legs from under a handcuffed prisoner is not "making him sit."

Posted by: Jennifer J Dostie Stewart | Feb 22, 2013 19:15

If the prisoner was causing a disturbance, and he was given a warning to sit, and then forced to sit, I don't understand the problem. He prevented this prisoner from possibly aggressing on any number of people in there. This doesn't sound like a case of a guard being a bully, it sounds like the case of a guard keeping the peace. There are far worse ways of making people comply with demands.


Posted by: Linda J. Elliot | Feb 22, 2013 18:51

Really?? Have you ever tried to supervise hundreds of convicted felons? I have and Capt Cutler was an immediate supervisor. He is a stand up guy; an assett to the Dept of Corrections. Give me a break....sounds like head hunting to me. I shall have to tread lightly here as I am still employed by DOC and don't want to lose my job.

Posted by: MIchael or Rhonda Smith | Feb 22, 2013 10:10

The prisoner was the victim?  Not that he was failing to obey a direct order... Howlett must be up for promotion.

Posted by: MIchael or Rhonda Smith | Feb 22, 2013 10:07

This is a crock of sh#t.  Cutler was never a friend to me. BUT I will gladly tell you. He is straight as they come! Failure to hand out hugs and candy to PRISONERS, does not make you a criminal. The DOC is not going to stop until all the strong staff are gone.  Leaving only lower paid, less experienced staff to try and manage this facility......  Why do I know that there is a privately owned prison in the works to be built in this area soon ?

Posted by: Judy Olson | Feb 22, 2013 09:43

Where's the rest of the story.....something isn't being said.

Posted by: Catherine Cooper | Feb 21, 2013 21:43

Agreed! He should have listened to the command of the officer in charge.

Posted by: Jeff Payson | Feb 21, 2013 19:58

Well said Richie.

Posted by: richie osgood | Feb 21, 2013 15:10

OK, lets see,,, The inmate was " causing a disturbance " , taken to a room where he did not follow directions from an officer. He then was told again to sit or he would be seated. He again refused, so he was sat down. Sounds good to me. Give the Captain a medal, not arrest him. If you allow the inmates to run the prison guards something seems wrong there to me. This will cause issues in the future with inmates not doing as asked. Wonderful.

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