SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – To amuse themselves in “initiations,” state prison jailers forced inmates to “ride the lightning:” hold electrified metal hooks until they convulsed, two men claim in Federal Court.
Qaiyim Hill and Richard Uribe sued Utah and its Corrections Department, and prison Officers Millecum and Newman.
Hill and Uribe claim that Millecum and Newman made them and others “ride the lightning” in September 2010 in Uintah County, as an initiation to work duty.
The complaint states: “Three days after Qaiyim’s Hill’s transfer to Uintah County Jail, he was in the parking lot of the Uintah County Jail.
“The inmates were awaiting their transportation by truck to their assigned work detail.
“Officer Millecum and Officer Newman were the officers assigned to supervise and guard the inmates.
“Officer Millecum and Officer Newman advised the six inmates that before work detail could begin, the inmates would have to pass the initiation.
“The initiation as explained by the officer consisted of ‘riding the lighting.’
“Apparently ‘riding the lightning’ meant that each inmate would have to grab a metal hook in each hand, which were fashioned to look like horns, and these horns in turn were attached to what appeared to be a car battery.
“The result of ‘riding the lighting’ was that each inmate would receive a substantial shock, which would convulse their bodies until they released the metal horns.”
Hill says he suffered a seizure; both men say it hurt. They say at least four other inmates had to do it too.
“During Richard Anthony Uribe’s incarceration at Uintah County Jail he witnessed ‘riding the lighting’ many times with many different inmates,” the complaint states.
“This apparently was the practice that had been performed many times before and after this day by the officers as an initiation to the work detail, the purpose of which could only have been to amuse the officers.”
The complaint adds: “As a result of the defendants’ actions, plaintiffs suffered permanent debilitating injury, disfigurement, severe pain, suffering, discomfort and emotional distress.”
Hill and Uribe are no longer in state custody.
They seek compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees for excessive force, battery, and cruel and unusual punishment.
They are represented by David Pace of Cottonwood Heights.