RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina Division of Prisons says its staff acted appropriately when it pepper sprayed a mentally ill inmate locked in a tiny cell.
Lawyers for the state filed a response Monday in the case of Jerry C. Williams, an inmate diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia kept in solitary confinement at Central Prison. A lawsuit filed on Williams' behalf claims he was repeatedly doused with pepper spray during a 2009 standoff initiated when the inmate jammed a plastic food tray through a small slot in his cell door.
The state says its use of force was justified because the tray struck correctional officer Marshal Griffin in the leg. Williams then readied to hurl a cup of liquid, a threat of "imminent assault" to which Griffin responded with pepper spray.