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Senior DOC Officials Implicated

After lower ranking guards crossed the blue line, Hays state prison Lt. Ray McWhorter offered a stunning account of events -- including allegations that senior GA DOC officials not only witnessed the massive shakedown, but were instrumental in igniting the firestorm of brutality.

McWhorter admitted taking part in the attack on prisoners after he saw a top Garner aide, A.G. Thomas, drag a prisoner across the floor by his hair.

"When Mr. Thomas did that," McWhorter said, "we were all under the impression that it was okay to do it. If Mr. Thomas can slam one, then we can slam one, too. That is just the dad-gum way it was. Folks were getting forced to the floor and slammed into the wall and flexicuffed and all that stuff. It was a dad-gum shark frenzy in G building. It was a free-for-all. You know how sharks do. They see a spot of blood, and then here come the sharks everywhere from a mile around."

McWhorter said that same day Commissioner Wayne Garner watched in another cellblock while prisoners, some hand-cuffed and lying on the floor, were punched, kicked and stomped until blood streaked the walls. So far, McWhorter, who headed the Hays state riot squad, is the highest ranking prison employee to support allegations that Garner and other senior state officials participated in the mass beatings. He said in his deposition that because he was afraid of losing his job, he initially signed a statement that no abuse had occurred, but his conscience made him change his mind.

"I got caught up [in the violence] just like everybody else," he said. "If I have to suffer the consequences for that, that is fine .... These were people who were handcuffed. Some were stripped completely naked. They had no ability to resist and were not engaged in any unlawful behavior. This was just old-fashioned brutality for the sadistic pleasure of it."

The Georgia DOC, however, continues to maintain that no abuse occurred. "We've chosen to take the high road," DOC spokesperson Karen Kirk told reporters. "This case will be tried in a courtroom, not in the media. We will be examining the lieutenant's motives at that time."

McWhorter's statements were published in the 7 July, 1997, New York Times. Four days later the Times published a letter to the editor written by Michael Light, spin-control specialist for the Georgia DOC.

"On the day in question, wrote Light, "prison squads were met with resistance from groups of inmates. Only appropriate force was used, and eventually 83 belligerent criminals were removed .... Today, Georgia prisons are safer and more secure than ever before ... As for allegations of abuse, we will welcome the truth in court.''

New York Times

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