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Beaten Attica Prisoner Awarded $70,000

After a two-week trial during July 1999, a jury ruled in favor of plaintiff Wayne Ford and awarded him $70,000 in a suit against Attica guards for using excessive force.

Wayne, 32, who acted as his own attorney through much of the proceedings, said that Attica guards beat him and dunked his head in a toilet, then yanked out seven of his dreadlocks, one by one. Jurors found that Sgt. Philip Greis and guards Dean Acquarted, Gilles Woodrich and Patrick Vaccaro acted "sadistically and maliciously, for the purpose of causing pain" during a January 1995 "cell extraction" incident.

 "I'm not very happy with the judicial system right now," said Vaccaro, a union steward with 14 years experience . "I thought the judge was partial to the inmate. He allowed the jury to hear almost no information about this inmate's criminal record or his record of conduct in prison. The jury did not get the whole story on what kind of person we were dealing with that day," Vaccaro told The Buffalo News.

 Prison officials say since 1989 Ford has been disciplined 75 times for assault, refusing orders, throwing excrement and other infractions.

 Guards involved in the suit testified that Ford provoked the 1995 incident. They said that eight guards went into Ford's cell because they were afraid he would use his handcuffs as a weapon against someone. But they denied they had forced his head into the toilet or pulled out his hair intentionally. The guards maintained that the seven dreadlocks were pulled off accidentally while the eight of them defended themselves in a struggle with the handcuffed Ford.  

Source: The Buffalo News

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Related legal case

Ford v. _____