HEADLINE: Inmate sues Wackenhut, state Corrections officials
DATELINE: HOBBS, N.M.
An inmate at a private prison at Hobbs is alleging his civil rights were violated when he was repeatedly kicked in the head in three years ago in a beating that resulted in the indictments of four former guards.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Santa Fe against Wackenhut Corp., which runs the Lea County Correctional Facility; Wackenhut officials; Lea County; and state correctional officers, including Corrections Secretary Rob Perry.
The lawsuit alleges Wackenhut officials engaged in widespread violations of prisoners' civil rights and that Perry and other state corrections officials were aware of beatings and other uses of excess force, but took no meaningful steps to stop them.
A spokeswoman for Wackenhut did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press seeking comment. Gerges Scott, a spokesman for the Corrections Department, said state officials could not comment because the lawsuit is pending.
A federal indictment in May accused the four former guards of beating and kicking inmate Eric Duran while he was shackled on the floor, then trying to cover it up.
Former guard Gary Butler of Hobbs and former prison Lt. William Fuller of Floresville, Texas, were accused of kicking Duran repeatedly in the head Dec. 21, 1998. Former Lt. Matias Serrata Jr. of Beeville, Texas, was accused of doing nothing to stop the attack, while former guard Kendall Lipscomb was accused of false testimony.
Butler also was accused of beating himself up so he could falsely blame Duran and justify the attack, the U.S. attorney's office said when the indictments were released.
Duran's attorneys, Mark Donatelli and Robert Rothstein of Santa Fe, said Butler, in a sworn statement in August, admitted kicking Duran in the head with his boot while the inmate was fully restrained. They said Butler also admitted conspiring with the other guards to file false charges against Duran, to write false reports on the beating and to obstruct investigations.
Donatelli has said Duran suffered permanent injuries that contributed to chronic headaches and impaired vision.