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Federal Prisoner Awarded $7,500 After Beating by Goon Squad

Marion Bryant, Jr., a federal prisoner housed at the medium-security Federal Correctional Institution Florence, Colorado, received $7,500.00 in a lawsuit for damages against several prison officials who allegedly assaulted him on two occasions in October, 1995.

In the complaint Bryant alleges significant misconduct on the behalf of FCI Florence Associate Warden Wayne Smith, United States Penitentiary Florence Captain Terry Hines, USP Florence Administrative Maximum (ADX) Lieutenant Mr. Buntz, and USP Florence prison guards Roderick Bryon Shultz, David Pruyne, Mr. Casteo, Jeffrey J. Chase, Thomas R. Hinkle, Miss. Gutierrez, and Brett T. Cassaro. He also sued FCI Florence Warden J.W. Booker and USP Florence Warden Joel H. Knowles, but U.S. District Court Judge Wiley Y. Daniel dismissed Bryant's claims against the wardens due to them not personally participating in the alleged beatings and assorted misconduct.

The allegations are severe. Following a disturbance at FCI Florence on October 26, 1995 Bryant was placed in the Special Housing Unit for alleged misconduct (most of the incident reports were subsequently expunged from his record). While there Associate Warden Smith allegedly authorized a forceful cell extraction of Bryant. This started a string of events that had a series of consequences, many of which brutal for Bryant.

While FCI Florence Associate Warden Smith is only alleged to have ordered the initial cell extraction on October 26, 1995 (during which time Bryant was allegedly hog-tied and assaulted by numerous unidentified FCI Florence prison guards), USP Florence Captain Hines and Lt. Buntz to have viewed one of the assaults, and FCI Florence Warden Booker and USP Florence Warden Knowles to have allowed such deplorable conduct to continue under their watch, the other named USP Florence prison guards allegedly engaged in hands-on physical abuse of Bryant.

The complaint alleges that on October 29, 1995 USP Florence guards Schultz and Pruyne "ran [Bryant] into a building, slamming his head first into a wall" while Bryant was handcuffed, black-boxed, shackled, and Martin chained. The complaint further alleges that USP Florence prison guard Casteo "ran [Bryant] head first into a rack of helmets" and then guards Hinkle and Chase dragged Bryant "up the stairs", where they "yanked and pulled, slamming [Bryant] into walls." According to Bryant, "I was tripped and kicked in the groin" and "taunted with racial slurs . . . and the threat of 'we'll kill you if you fuck with staff!'" Finally, the complaint alleges that USP Florence prison guard Gutierrez "pulled [Bryant's] head up by the hair" and joined the others dragging Bryant down the hallway. As a result of all of this alleged abuse, Bryant "suffered bruised ribs, busted lip, and injury to his left shoulder, and other abrasions," according to the complaint.

The suit was settled in March, 2003. The FCI Florence and USP Florence prison guards and the United States of America agreed to pay Mr. Bryant $7,500.00 in full satisfaction of his claims. As is typical in such settlement agreements, the defendants did not admit to any liability and the Federal Bureau of Prisons did not acknowledge any disciplinary action against the offenders.

The documents from this case were obtained by Prison Legal News after a 12-year battle with the Federal Bureau of Prisons over a Freedom of Information Act request.

Source: Bryant v. Cassaro, No. 97-RB-891 (PAC)(D. Colo. filed on  Dec. 16, 1997).

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Related legal case

Bryant v. Cassaro