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Michigan Prisoner Assaulted By Jailers Awarded $2,000

On June 9, 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan awarded $2,000 to a prisoner who was beaten by jailers in the Macomb County Jail.

While imprisoned at the jail on October 27, 2004, plaintiff William F. Diaz claimed he was beaten by jailer Anthony Romita. Romita had instituted a lockdown during which he aggressively and profanely ordered the prisoners to their cells. Afterward Diaz told his cellmate that he would ?kick Romita?s ass? if they weren?t in jail, and Romita apparently overheard him.

Romita, accompanied by another jailer, Bryan Sywak, entered Diaz?s cell and asked, ?Which one of you motherfuckers said you would kick my ass?? He then grabbed Diaz by the neck while Sywak escorted Diaz?s cellmate to another area. Upon Sywak?s return, Romita released his grip on Diaz?s neck and began repeatedly punching him in the kidneys, according to the lawsuit. Romita followed up the punches by kneeing Diaz in his left side and hitting him in the back of the head. When Diaz crumpled under the blows, Sywak and Romita forced him onto his bunk, hitting his head in the process. They then smashed his face into the mattress and held it like they were trying to smother him. Sywak and Romita then left the cell and never documented the use of force.

Diaz subsequently filed suit in federal court alleging, among other things, assault and battery, conspiracy, and violation of his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. He named as defendants Romita, Sywak, and jailer Eric Oke, who was working in the control picket during the incident and allowed the assailants access to Diaz?s cell.

At trial Diaz presented testimony from fellow prisoners, sheriff?s investigators, and others. The jury absolved Sywak and Oke of any wrongdoing but found that Romita had committed battery and used excessive force. They consequently awarded Diaz $2,000 in compensatory damages against Romita but declined to award punitives. Diaz was returned to the Michigan Department of Corrections? Mound Road Correctional Facility in Detroit after the verdict.

All three guards were disciplined following and internal investigation-- Oke for improperly opening a doorway, and Sywak and Romita for removing a television during the lockdown without documenting it--though no criminal charges were filed and they all kept their jobs. Diaz was represented by attorney Fred Gibson of Clinton Township, Michigan. See: Diaz v. Romita, USDC ED MI, Case No. 05-70928.

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Related legal cases

Diaz v. Romita

Case information is available in the brief bank.

Diaz v. Romita

Case information is available in the briefbank.