Prison Guards ‘Murdered’ Inmate, Widow Says

     WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) – The widow of a mentally ill inmate killed by prison guards this year filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, saying her husband’s “notorious” attackers in uniform dubbed themselves the “Beat Up Squad.”
     Samuel Harrell was 30 years old and serving time at the Fishkill Correctional Facility for a nonviolent drug offense at the time of his death on April 21, 2015.
     Though Harrell still had several years left of his sentence, he suffered from the delusion on April 21 that his wife and sister were going to deliver him back home from prison that evening.
     Harrell’s widow (pictured above) says her husband, diagnosed as bipolar with psychotic features, started packing his bags around 8 p.m., before group of corrections officers pummeled him to death as he tried to leave.
     The Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Harrell’s death a homicide.
     A New York Times investigation ultimately caused the well-publicized incident to explode on the national scene, calling attention to allegations of rampant racism and abuse in New York prisons.
     Diane Harrell’s wrongful-death lawsuit today gives a brutal description of what she calls her late husband’s “murder.”
     “Numerous corrections officers, including members of the notorious ‘Beat Up Squad,’ proceeded to punch, kick, stomp, and jump on Mr. Harrell’s face, head, neck, back, sides, and legs as he lay handcuffed on the ground to the point where Mr. Harrell became motionless and unresponsive,” the 36-page complaint says. “Two officers then threw Mr. Harrell’s limp, lifeless body down the stairs.”
     The complaint indentifies three members of the so-called “Beat Up Squad” as corrections officers Bryan W. Eull (also known as “Captain America”), Martin Michels and Jonn Yaeger. She says the full names of others remain unknown.
     All of the officers were white, and shouted racial slurs at Harrell, who was black, according to the lawsuit.
     When asked whether these officers faced any reprimand, a spokesman for New York’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) declined to comment “during ongoing state and federal investigations.”
      The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office declined to comment.
     Harrell’s widow accuses the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, DOCCS employees, and Fishkill officers of conspiring to “cover-up” the cause of Harrell’s death by falsely claiming that he died of an overdose.
     The autopsy found no drugs in Harrell’s bloodstream, according to the lawsuit.
     One inmate who witnessed Harrell’s dead body being tossed down the stairs allegedly received a warning from the guards. “You better forget what you saw here if you ever want to make it home alive,” a Fishkill officer said, according to the complaint.
     Other inmates who witnessed the incident were placed in solitary confinement without cause, and warned the “same thing” that happened to Harrell would happen to them, Harrell’s widow says.
     The lawsuit demands punitive damages for 10 civil rights violations.
     Harrell’s widow is represented by Jonathan Moore of Beldock Levine & Hoffman.

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