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$75,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Jail Beating

A $75,000 settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by a former prisoner who was beaten by guards at Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland County Prison (WCP).

In June 2009, James P. Edwards, 28, was arrested on a parole violation. He was on parole following a 10-year sentence in Texas for attempted capital murder, and was violated for failing to report to his parole officer.

While at WCP, Edwards was taken into a counselor’s office by guards Christopher Pickard, Steven Greenawalt, Craig Petrus and Randy Miller. Edwards alleged that once there, the four guards slammed his head into the wall and beat him. He suffered head, neck, rib and back injuries. [See: PLN, Jan. 2010, p.30].

The four guards face criminal charges of official oppression, simple assault, terroristic threats and conspiracy related to the beating. Two other guards, Jonathan Billheimer and Marc Hutchison, were fired for not stopping the assault. They were not criminally charged and both have since sued WCP, claiming they were wrongfully terminated.

Edwards filed suit in federal court over the beating, and the case settled in November 2010. The county’s insurer paid the settlement. See: Edwards v. County of Westmoreland, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Penn.), Case No. 2:10-cv-00799-NBF.

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Related legal case

Edwards v. County of Westmoreland