Gary Thelen, a former San Quentin prisoner, suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome from his Berlin-wall era military service in Germany, for which he receives psychiatric medication. He experiences frequent claustrophobic reactions and flashbacks. In August 1998, after having been moved from dormitory housing to a fifth tier cell in North block, Thelen suffered a severe claustrophobic reaction at 1 a.m. To reduce the reaction, he curled up on the floor next to the door, where he wept uncontrollably and was overwhelmed with anxiety.
A crew of five guards, headed by South Block Sergeant Shadeed Hasan, visited Thelen's cell at that time and prodded him with a broomstick under the door. They then dragged him from his cell and lifted him by the throat. At that point, Thelen alleged Hasan repeatedly struck Thelen's right ear with his rubber-gloved hand, rupturing Thelen's eardrum. Hasan and the others then dragged Thelen, who offered no resistance, down the five flights of stairs. The ear injury required two surgeries, but Thelen still suffers hearing and balance problems.
Thelen's attorney, Sara Norman of the Prison Law Office, adduced 27 sworn statements from prisoners and guards in support of Thelen's allegations, although a San Quentin internal affairs investigation found no improper conduct. The state Office of the Inspector General found that required use-of-force forms had not been filed. But that report went on to say it found evidence that Hasan and the guards had lied to investigators in describing the removal of Thelen from his cell," Judge Breyer noted, adding that the guards' behavior, if true, is brutal.
Outraged by the years of delay in Thelen's trial, Judge Breyer deemed the latest request for qualified immunity to be solely for the purpose of delay, and set the trial for February 22, 2004. In January, the state settled with Thelen for $149,500. The figure includes attorney fees and costs. However, this does not foreclose the possibility of federal criminal proceedings against Hasan, who stuck by his story after the five guards recanted their original self-serving versions. See: Thelen v. Hasan, USDC ND CA, Case No. C-01-1314 CRB. g
Source: San Francisco Daily Journal.
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Thelen v. Hasan
|Cite||USDC ND CA, Case No. C-01-1314 CRB|