Lawsuit Filed Against Georgia Department of Corrections Officers for Beatings of Handcuffed Prisoners at Hays State Prison

12th July, 2011

ROME, GEORGIA – Today, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) and Hunton & Williams LLP, filed Nwakanma, et al.  v. Clark, et al., on behalf of their clients, four prisoners who were incarcerated at Hays State Prison (Hays).  The civil rights lawsuit alleges that the four men were beaten by officers employed by the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) while the prisoners were handcuffed.  The Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, and ask the Court to end a pattern and practice of excessive force and retaliatory beatings by officers at Hays.  The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Rome.  

The Plaintiffs in the case are Miracle Nwakanma, Cornelius Spencer, Eric Towns, and Gregory Haines.  
The four men allege that on August 12, 2010, they were subjected to retaliatory beatings by members of the GDC’s Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) and other officers.  Specifically, in their lawsuit the Plaintiffs allege:
•    While handcuffed, Miracle Nwakanma was punched, stomped on, kicked in the groin and face, struck with a flashlight, hit with batons, and beaten until he was unconscious.  He suffered injuries including splintered teeth, a fractured toe, a fractured jaw, and possible neurological damage.  Oral surgery was later required to repair the damage to his face.
•    While handcuffed, Cornelius Spencer was punched, kicked, and beaten with a baton-like instrument until he vomited and lost consciousness.  Mr. Spencer suffered a baseball-sized hematoma to the head, a fractured toe, and other injuries.
•    While Eric Towns was handcuffed, officers kicked him in the head, beat him with a baton on his bare feet, and struck him with a baton in the head until he was unconscious.  
•    While handcuffed, Gregory Haines was punched, kneed in the face, and kicked in the face.  

“Physical abuse against prisoners cannot be tolerated in a civilized society,” said SCHR attorney Atteeyah Hollie.  “There is no penological interest served by beating handcuffed men to the point of unconsciousness,” Hollie added.  

This is the second time that SCHR has sued Hays State Prison officials for assaults on prisoners.  In 1997, SCHR settled a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of fourteen men who were subjected to unprovoked beatings during a prison “shakedown” led by former GDC Commissioner Wayne Garner.

To read the compliant, click here.

For additional information, contact Kathryn Hamoudah at 404/688-1202 or [email protected]