We think carefully about spending our money … except when paying taxes! YOU, whatever state you live in, should raise hell about prison abuse because scores of preventable lawsuits like this one are wasting thousands of YOUR tax dollars!
Excerpts from the Article:
The family of a Louisiana prison inmate who died in custody a year ago filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging he was severely beaten while handcuffed and then denied medical attention before his death.
Anthony Carl Smith, 55, was found unresponsive in his cell at the B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center in the town of Angie last March 10 — a year ago Tuesday.
The lawsuit says Smith had sought medical attention before he became involved in a “use of force” incident involving several corrections officers. The Washington Parish coroner ruled Smith’s death an accident.
In the lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, Anthony Smith’s father, Richard Smith, sued the State of Louisiana, Rayburn Warden Robert Tanner and multiple current and former employees, blaming them for his son’s wrongful death, among other claims.
The allegations in the complaint are based primarily on medical records, termination letters for several staff members involved in the incident and media reports, according to the Smith family attorney.
Smith was serving a 30-year-sentence for forcible rape and second-degree kidnapping at the time of his death. He had been sentenced in 2013.
According to the lawsuit, Smith was diagnosed with major mental health disorders, including major depression with psychotic features. To address his mental illness, Smith was taking medication regularly — medication he had not received the morning of his death when he had sought his prescription in a treatment wing of the prison.
The lawsuit says Smith’s request to check on his prescription led to several corrections officers “maliciously and sadistically beating” him while he was handcuffed in the treatment room.
The family’s lawyers said in their lawsuit that beatings are common at Rayburn. They said that not only had Smith been beaten while restrained in the past, but other prisoners had suffered the same fate, revealing a pattern of violence ignored by prison administration.
Apart from a purported trend of violence at the prison, Smith’s mental health diagnosis influenced how he was treated behind bars, the lawsuit alleges.
“Prisoners suffering from psychiatric illness are at risk in the prison setting precisely because of their mental illness,” the lawsuit says. “They have difficulty following rules, and, because they are mentally ill, they often interact with prison staff in a manner that is perceived as bothersome and annoying.”
After the beating, Smith “vomited repeatedly and became unconscious and nonresponsive.” The corrections officers and nurse on scene did not provide Smith medical care following the beating, the lawsuit alleges.
Instead, the corrections captain ordered that a spit mask be placed on Smith’s face to prevent him from spitting at officers, but the device had the effect of “forcing him to slowly suffocate on his own vomit.” Smith was later transported through the prison in a wheelchair, left in his cell and eventually pronounced dead hours later.
The lawsuit claims several officers concealed evidence of their involvement in the beating by deleting a mandated post-use-of-force photograph showing vomit on Smith’s face; the nurse responding to Smith’s care also falsified a record of his health condition following the beating, the lawsuit says. Furthermore, the corrections officers involved “continued to discuss Mr. Smith’s beating and death in the days and weeks that followed in order to cover up their unconstitutional conduct,” the lawsuit says.
Since Smith’s death, the warden has fired five Rayburn corrections officers and a Washington Parish grand jury has indicted three on obstruction and malfeasance charges.
In addition to wrongful death, the complaint cites excessive force, failure to intervene, denial of medical care and conspiracy. The lawsuit also claims the state deprived Smith of a safe environment and discriminated against him as a disabled person.
Sarah Grady, an attorney with the Chicago-based law firm Loevy & Loevy, released a statement on behalf of the Smith family Monday evening.
“Anthony was a beloved son, brother, and uncle,” Grady said. “We mourn his loss every day. We hope that this lawsuit can obtain some justice for Anthony and others like him who have been subject to serious abuses at Rayburn by guards who have been allowed to act with impunity.”
William Most, a New Orleans lawyer, is also representing the Smith family in the lawsuit.