Lawsuits: DOC's negligence lead to injuries, deaths in SC prison riot

The new lawsuits join 10 others claiming chronic understaffing and poor prison conditions lead to the deadly riot


By Emily Bohatch
The State (Columbia, S.C.)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Riots that broke out in three dorms at Lee Correctional Institution in April were not contained to the buildings themselves, according to new lawsuits filed Monday against the S.C. Department of Corrections.

Prisoners in Lee's F-5 wing were able to make it out of the dorm and into the correctional institution's recreational area unabated during the riot, according to the suits.

This shows the Lee Correctional Institution on Monday, April 16, 2018, in Bishopville, S.C. Multiple inmates were killed and others seriously injured amid fighting between prisoners inside the maximum security prison in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
This shows the Lee Correctional Institution on Monday, April 16, 2018, in Bishopville, S.C. Multiple inmates were killed and others seriously injured amid fighting between prisoners inside the maximum security prison in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Inmates Derrick Stalk and Jabriel Singleton were in the common area of the dorm when a large group of armed prisoners rushed in, according to the suits. Derrick and Singleton were attacked, but managed to fight their way out of the group.

The pair, along with a few other inmates, made their way to a door to the outside of the dorm, according to the suits. They ran out and tried to escape to a fenced-in recreational area, but a correctional officer locked the gate.

Trapped, Stalk and Singleton were attacked again by armed inmates. Both Stalk and Singleton were stabbed multiple times in the head, shoulder, arms and hand, according to their respective lawsuits.

With nowhere else to go, Stalk and Singleton climbed a chain-link fence and crawled over razor wire, according to the suit. Though Singleton cleared the fence, Stalk got caught in the wire.

As he hung with a leg tangled in razor wire from the fence, Stalk was stabbed again by the armed inmates until he managed to shake himself free, according to the suit. When he fell, he broke a leg and dislocated his shoulder.

Both waited in full view of correctional officers for hours before receiving medical attention, according to the suits.

Both lawsuits claim the Department of Corrections' negligence lead to Stalk and Singleton's injuries, as well as the deaths of seven inmates who were killed in the riot.

He asked SC prison officers for help during deadly riot. They maced him, suit says

These new lawsuits join 10 others claiming chronic understaffing and poor prison conditions lead to the deadly riot at Lee Corrections. Nearly all claim only one CO was in the dorm when fighting broke out at the maximum security prison, even though Department of Corrections officials claim two are always present on each wing.

The suits also claim COs didn't perform required checks on cells for contraband, and that guards knew many of the inmates — even those in competing gangs — were armed.

Prison officials reported doors at the prison had broken locks, allowing inmates to move freely at times.

A lawsuit filed Friday even claimed COs took bribes to look the other way when prisoners wanted to injure another.

©2018 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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