Lawsuit: Prison guards deleted beating video

Lawsuit: Prison guards deleted beating video

Credit: Charlotte Observer

Lawsuit: Prison guards deleted beating video


by AMES ALEXANDER / Charlotte Observer

Posted on November 9, 2012 at 5:34 PM

ANSON COUNTY, N.C. -- A N.C. inmate has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that corrections officers at an Anson County prison cracked his skull with a baton and then destroyed a surveillance video that showed the assault.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, inmate Kevin Brower contended that the assault happened during a prison riot on Nov. 10, 2009, after he tried to protect a fellow inmate from excessive force by corrections officers.

Brower, who is serving a 45-year prison term for second-degree murder, stated that officers at Lanesboro Correctional Institution handcuffed him face down on the floor. Then, he alleged, unknown officers kicked him in the face, ribs and hips until he “heard a crack and everything went silent.”

The inmate, who was later treated for a hairline skull fracture and a three-inch laceration, argued that officers used excessive force.

Brower also alleged that a corrections officer at the Polkton prison deleted a surveillance video that showed a white officer striking him in the back of the skull with a baton.

In a separate lawsuit related to the same melee, inmate Lorenzo Ingram contends that a Lanesboro corrections officer also used excessive force in an assault against him. That complaint, filed last week, alleges that Ingram was also trying to protect a fellow inmate when an officer held him off the ground by his dreadlocks and then repeatedly punched him in the face and head.

A surveillance video in that case shows the officer striking Ingram in the head 21 times, the lawsuit says. Ingram is in prison for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Officials for the state prison system did not respond to the allegations.

“The Dept. of Public Safety has just received these lawsuits and they are under review,” department spokesman Keith Acree wrote. “The agency typically does not comment on matters that are under litigation.”

The corrections officers accused in the alleged beatings and cover-up could not be reached Friday. Kory Dalrymple, one of the defendants accused of conspiring to delete video footage, declined to comment. Dalrymple, a former assistant superintendent at Lanesboro, now works a similar job at nearby Brown Creek Correctional Institution.

Last year, authorities charged Richard Neely, the former administrator at Lanesboro, with obstruction of justice, claiming he ordered the destruction of video footage shot during the disturbance.

An assistant to District Attorney Reece Saunders, who covers Anson County, said the charges against Neely were dismissed in June. She declined to say why.

Brower’s lawsuit alleges that Dalrymple and two corrections officers conspired to destroy all surveillance video showing white officers using excessive force against black inmates. He contends that the officers made unfounded allegations against Neely to divert attention from their actions.

Following the incident, Brower filed a grievance alleging that corrections officers used excessive force against him, but prison officials rejected the complaint. He later pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of assault on a government official, and to an administrative charge alleging that he assaulted staff.

Ingram, the inmate in the second suit, also pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of assault on a government official.

Previously, state corrections officials said that inmates seriously assaulted a number of corrections officers in the incident. Four inmates were charged, while five staff had to be treated at outside medical facilities, officials said.

After the riot, Brower contends, prison officials confined him to long-term segregation for almost three years without good cause. During that time, he maintains in his lawsuit, prison officials denied him contact visits, phone calls and recreation. He contends he was also denied access to sunlight, and to electric lights except when he was eating and showering.

The suit contends that was done to “intimidate and psychologically torture him.”