No shit Sherlock! I sent an email to Ms. Burke, encouraging her to keep suing these out of control S O Bs! I have dozens of articles like this one about SCI on my website.
Excerpts from the Article:
A lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of two men who claim they were unjustifiably beaten by officers at Sussex Correctional Institution aims to investigate what the filing describes as an “ongoing and egregious pattern of the use of excessive force” against people housed in the prison.
The lawsuit was submitted to U.S. District Court in Wilmington on behalf of William “Bill” Davis and Isaac Montague. Both claim they were beaten as pretrial detainees and that officers deployed pepper spray directly into their nose and mouth as they were held down in two separate incidents this fall.
“Justice? I think they definitely need to be charged criminally because eventually they are going to kill somebody,” said Davis, a resident of Bear and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit follows other litigation against the Delaware Department of Correction in which people imprisoned by the state claim that officers engage in violence and other violations of basic rights with impunity.
Both Davis and Montague are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware. It is the first time the organization has represented prisoners in recent years and the first such lawsuit since hiring Susan Burke, who took over as the chapter’s legal director earlier this year.
“We intend to do a lot of prison litigation,” Burke said. “The conditions are deplorable. We were particularly concerned in this case about the state violence and we look forward to significant changes.”
Davis was booked into the Georgetown-area prison, known as SCI, on a Thursday night in October due to an outstanding warrant related to missing court on traffic charges. The next morning, he appeared at a court hearing via video link from the prison and a judge ordered him released pending the processing of his case, he said.
But the prison didn’t release him, so he remained locked up at SCI through the weekend.
“I figured well, whatever, you are south of the ditch and things move a little slower down there sometimes, you know what I mean?” 49-year-old Davis said in an interview Friday.
He said he spent the weekend sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a cell that housed three others.
The following Monday, he inquired with officers about his custody status. Later that morning, he received paperwork that indicated incorrectly that he was to be kept in lockup.
He said he began to curse at nobody in particular as he walked away and was summoned by Officer Kirk Neal, who he said began to curse and shout at him. “They are prison guards; they have a job to do,” Davis said. “I can appreciate that, but you have to treat a man like a human being as well. My father didn’t even speak to me the way that man spoke to me.”
Davis said he didn’t take an “aggressive stance” but told Neal he didn’t need to shout at him.
“I tell him, ‘Look, I’m standing right here; all this screaming is not necessary, my man,” Davis recalled.
He said Neal grabbed him by his arm and head and asked him where he lived as he started walking him down the tier. He told Neal that he lives in Bear, not thinking the officer was referring to which cell Davis was being held in.
“That was not the answer he was looking for,” Davis said.
Davis and the lawsuit claim Neal first slammed him against a wall and then to the ground. “As I’m on my way to the ground, one of the other guards, he was coming across that tier like a linebacker,” Davis said. “He couldn’t wait to get to me.”
He said eventually three officers pummeled him as he was pressed against the ground. He said the officers were shouting “stop resisting” as they attacked him. “I told him, ‘I’m not resisting,’ as I’m getting punched in the head and my head is getting bounced off the floor,” Davis said.
He was on his stomach with an officer’s knee in his back when that officer took his head, turned it sideways and instructed an officer identified as Evanglett — and named as a defendant in the lawsuit — to “mace him.”
He said the officer stuck the pepper spray nozzle directly in his nose and fired.
“Imagine taking a glass bottle, smashing it up and grinding it up and snorting that up your nose,” Davis said, recounting the sensation. “Then times that by 1,000. I felt it burn for days.”
He said the officers tried to spray him a second time but the nozzle was knocked off.
He was then lifted by his cuffs and taken to a different part of the building. He said he felt like he was dying and was “half choking to death.” He said officers responded by putting a bag over his head to contain any spit from his coughing.
“One guard, he was kind enough to open the door for me, but that was only so he could put his leg out, take me and throw me face down on the floor after just beating me half to death,” Davis said.
Shortly after, he was taken for what he described as a cursory check at the infirmary where his blood pressure and pulse were measured and no other care was rendered.
Later that day, his mother was able to sort out the problem with his release, which he said stemmed from someone involved with the courts failing to fax the appropriate paperwork to the prison. He was released that night, his eye blacked and his head “all knotted up,” and he went to the hospital. There, he was diagnosed with a concussion and severe muscle spasm in his back, he said. He has a coming doctor’s appointment to address ankle pain.
“My head still doesn’t feel right to this day,” he said.
Davis didn’t know this until later, but there had been a similar such incident in the same area of that prison involving Officer Neal the month before.
In September, Isaac Montague was ordered back into his cell by Neal. Montague’s lawsuit said Neal followed him back to his cell, shouting at him. The lawsuit claims Neal stood in the doorway so his cell door could not close and signaled to other officers that there was a disturbance.
Montague claims he put himself stomach first on the ground with hands behind his back at this point. The lawsuit claims Neal assaulted Montague anyway, kneeing him in the side of the face as other officers joined in the assault.
The lawsuit claims Montague’s dreadlocks were pulled from his head, that officers struck him in the face with handcuffs, leaving a permanent scar, and that both Neal and Officer Ryan Maddox called him a “racist name.”
He also claims Maddox inserted a pepper spray nozzle into his mouth and sprayed it inside of his body.
The attack left him unable to immediately walk. He was taken on a gurney to the infirmary where his face was “patched up.” He claims he was given only ice in response to subsequent sick calls, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit states Montague spent the next three weeks in “the hole,” a slang term for the harshest part of the prison where prisoners are housed as punishment. His lawsuit claims his shoulder remains injured. He remains incarcerated at SCI, according to the lawsuit.
His lawsuit states that attempts to complain of the beating through normal prison grievance channels were “ignored or disregarded.”
Truman Mears, warden of the prison, is also named as a defendant. The lawsuit states he would have known about Montague’s beating and failed to take disciplinary actions which would have spared Davis his assault a month later.
The lawsuit will seek to extract video from the Department of Correction showing both of the assaults. The filing also states it is “likely” the litigation will uncover further failures to properly supervise the responsible officers.
“They are the type that will kill you down there,” Davis said. “They have carte blanche to do whatever they want.”
The lawsuit makes claims of constitutional violations while seeking punitive and compensatory damages.