ST. LOUIS — A former Missouri prison guard who alleged that he was wrongly fired received $85,000 under a deal with the state — the latest in a string of settlements involving corrections department workers.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a report Thursday that Jonathan Griggs received the money in November. It's the result of a settlement between Griggs and the state after a St. Louis County jury initially awarded him $189,000 in damages stemming from his 2014 discharge from his job at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Griggs, a correctional officer in Kentucky for four years prior to taking a job at the Pacific facility in 2013, said he got in trouble for reporting what he believed was illegal activity within the lockup, including officers smuggling in drugs and gang activity. His lawsuit notes that he was told to ignore the activity.
Later, Griggs alleged he was demoted from his post as a gang task-force officer after his supervisors accused him of dealing drugs. No charges were filed related to that accusation.
Griggs subsequently said he was attacked by inmates while working as a correctional officer. After fighting them off, he said a prayer, leading his supervisor to call him a "religious fanatic" and recommend a mental evaluation, according to court records.
Griggs was fired after he reported an inmate was studying how to make bombs in his cell. In its decision, the jury rejected Griggs' claim of religious discrimination but agreed that his firing was illegal.
The payment is among a surge of settlements that led former Attorney General Josh Hawley to begin posting a monthly list of legal expenses on his website. Schmitt's office now administers the report, which notes that there currently are an estimated $458 million in contested pending claims.
Many of the prison guard settlements involve female guards who alleged that male coworkers had sexually harassed them.