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Mom Says Prison Guards Killed Her Son

NASHVILLE (CN) - Prison guards killed an inmate by electrocuting him with a Taser for 10 minutes while they sat on him with a Taser shield and suffocated him, the man's mother claims in Federal Court.

Jane Luna claims her son, Charles Toll, was killed by a "cell extraction team" who dragged him out of his cell at the Riverbend Maximum Security prison. Luna claims a prison guard harassed her son, intending to provoke a response. Her son "tossed liquid through the door jamb and onto [defendant Jeffrey] Reckart in response to Reckart's harassment," she says.

"Officer Reckart told other Riverbend guards that he had been splashed with urine and entered into a plan or scheme with other guards to retaliate against Charles Toll ...

"The Cell Extraction Team Defendants, clad in black riot gear-style uniforms and armed with Taser guns and a Taser shield, opened Charles Toll's cell, shackled him, and dragged him out with his face on the ground.

"Toll repeatedly told the Cell Extraction Team Defendants that he could not breathe while they were holding him down with the Taser shield."

Luna says those complaints only "increased the ferocity of their sadistic attack. The Cell Extraction Team Defendants used a Taser device to repeatedly shock Toll with electricity. They then dragged him facedown out of the pod and into the prison yard, with a deliberate intent to escape the view of other inmates.

"The Cell Extraction Team Defendants sadistically and maliciously pressed a Taser shield on Charles Toll's back for more than ten minutes while several members sat on the Taser shield, electrocuting and suffocating him."

A Taser shield is made of a material that resists electric shock, so the guards would not be electrocuted while they electrocuted Toll.

Toll's mother says that abuse at Riverbend Prison is nothing new, and there is evidence that at least three other inmates were beaten and severely injured in the months before her son's death.

Toll was 33 and suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which were not properly treated, his mother says.

She says a Tennessee Department of Corrections information officer told the media that Toll died of natural causes.

But a medical examiner who performed an autopsy on said Toll had been killed by "mechanical asphyxia and suffocation," and "asphyxia during physical restraint," his mother says.

Luna seeks punitive damages for civil rights and constitutional violations. Defendants include Riverbend Prison Warden Ricky Bell, and nine correctional officers: Brandon Jackson, Cpl. Sean Stewart, Gaelan Doss, Darrell Freeman, Bruce Bishop Jr., William Amonette, Joshua Mills, Capt. James Horton, and Jeffrey Reckart.

She is represented by David Raybin with Hollins, Raybin & Weissman.

WKRN-TV, ABC's Nashville affiliate, reported after Toll's death in August that he had "entered the prison system in 1994 at the age of 18. He was serving 30 years for a variety of offenses, including aggravated burglary and escape in both Sumner and Robertson counties."

Tennessee Department of Corrections spokeswoman Dorinda Carter told WKRN that "Toll had been disciplined within the Tennessee Department of Corrections in excess of 50 times for a variety of offenses, including assaulting staff members," according to the Aug. 18, 2010 report.

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