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Connecticut DOC Settles Prisoner Hogtying Death For $900,000

Connecticut DOC Settles Prisoner Hogtying Death For $900,000

The Connecticut Department of Corrections (CDC) settled a wrongful death complaint for $900,000 when a prisoner who was hogtied in a prison classroom died of traumatic asphyxia from the application of such restraint.

Dennis Kinsman was an unconvicted pre-trial detainee (charged with disorderly conduct) at the Garner Correctional Facility in May 2004. Kinsman had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and attended a required anger management class taught by a recreational therapist. When Kinsman and the therapist got into an argument in class, the therapist grabbed Kinsman by the shirt and tried to remove him. Eleven guards responded to the therapist’s summons for aid. Six of them wrestled Kinsman to the ground and hog-tied him face down with his feet on his buttocks and his hands shackled behind his back. In this position, Kinsman vomited, became unconscious and died while the other guards just looked on. Cause of death was determined to be from drowning in his vomit.

This was not news to CDC. In November 1999 another Garner prisoner, Bryant Wiseman, died under similar circumstances. And six months earlier, Timothy Perry died the same type of death at the Hartford Correctional Center. Kinsman’s attorneys argued that with this precedent, CDC should have revised its use-offorce policies particularly as to the incidence of compression asphyxia. Failing to do so predictably resulted “in a nightmarish reenactment” of the earlier deaths.

Kinsman’s family sued in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint alleging violation of Dennis’ Fourteenth Amendment rights to safety and life. The parties settled the complaint in January 2008 for $900,000.00. Kinsman was represented by Bridgeport attorney Sean McElligott. See: Kinsman v. Lantz, U.S.D.C. (D. Conn.) No. 07CV793(JCAH0).

Other resource: Connecticut Law Tribune.

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Related legal case

Kinsman v. Lantz