by Scott Grammer
On June 4, 2017 at the maximum-security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, four prisoners who were playing cards while shackled to a table in a dayroom area were attacked and stabbed by another prisoner, convicted murderer Greg Reinke.
Surveillance video footage captured the 37-year-old Reinke – who was shackled at the ankles but whose hands were free, despite a long history of violence in custody – as he suddenly stood from a table near the four other prisoners and retrieved a seven-inch shiv. He then repeatedly stabbed the four, who were chained to their table and unable to flee.
“He was trying to kill us for sure,” said one of the victims, 29-year-old Shamieke D. Pugh.
Another prisoner eventually broke free and fought back; the attack lasted almost a full minute before a guard entered the area and began moving toward Reinke. The injured prisoners were freed from the table about three minutes later. Reinke was searched and a second shiv was found.
Pugh, who was stabbed a dozen times, sustained injuries so severe that he required a two-week recovery at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. He was released from prison in 2019 after serving a five-year sentence for burglary, but still suffers from nerve damage in his arm, difficulty breathing and psychological anxiety. Moreover, he believes that prison guards helped orchestrate the attack – a claim that prison officials and the guards’ union have denied.
“An investigation was completed, and there was no wrongdoing found,” said union president Christopher Mabe. “Our correction officers followed proper procedure and protocol.”
However, the only investigation was one conducted by SOCF itself. The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC), a state agency tasked with evaluating Ohio’s 30 state prisons, is so short-handed – its staff of five full-time employees in 2013 has now shriveled to one – that it uses interns to conduct inspections. [See: PLN, May 2019, p.20]. Five years ago, CIIC’s reports were posted online within a month of a prison inspection, but no reports have been posted since 2017.
After the attack on Pugh and the three other prisoners at SOCF, the facility no longer shackles multiple prisoners seated at tables. The investigation found no motive for the incident – not even racial bias, though Reinke is white and his four victims are black. Prison officials have also been unable to explain how Reinke was able to escape his handcuffs and carry two shivs out of his cell. An internal prison report quoted Reinke as saying he “just felt like killing someone” at the time. He was not initially charged because he was already serving a life sentence.
But eight months later, in February 2018, Reinke and another prisoner, 30-year-old Casey Pigge, attacked prison guard Matthew Mathias, stabbing him 32 times. Following that incident, newly-appointed Scioto County prosecutor Shane Tieman charged Reinke for both the assault on Mathias and the earlier one on Pugh and the other prisoners at SOCF.
“These victims deserve their day in court, too,” Tieman said.
In March 2019, Reinke pleaded guilty to both attacks, receiving 54 years for assaulting Pugh and 32 years for stabbing Mathias. Both terms were added to the life sentence he was already serving for aggravated murder in the 2004 shooting death of a customer who stepped outside a Cleveland restaurant to stop a robbery that Reinke was committing. In April 2019, Pigge also pleaded guilty to the attack on Mathias, receiving an additional 32 years added to his original sentence of 30 years to life.
“You know, there wasn’t this much drama when they was agging (sic) me on to kill inmates, you know,” Pigge told the court after his plea. “So it is what it is. There’s always two sides to a coin.”
After that apparent reference to encouragement that Pigge may have received from prison staff to assault other prisoners, Pugh filed suit in April 2019 in federal district court against SOCF and its staff, claiming their negligence had allowed the stabbing by Reinke that nearly killed him. He and co-plaintiff Maurice D. Lee – a 27-year-old serving a 10-year sentence who was also a victim of Reinke’s attack – allege that guards failed to search Reinke before letting him into the recreation area.
“That’s what they wanted, they want people to fear Lucasville,” Pugh said. “I heard them say it all the time: They thought it was getting soft.”
His attorney, Solomon Radner, promised to seek monetary damages sufficient to make prison officials ensure that an attack like the one his client suffered “never happens again.”
“Because it’s not supposed to happen in the first place,” Radner added.
Both Reinke and Pigge have since been transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. The lawsuit filed by Pugh and Lee remains pending. See: Pugh v. Erdos, U.S.D.C. (S.D. Ohio), Case No. 1:19-cv-00245-MRB.
Sources: abc6onyourside.com, chillicothegazette.com, cincinatti.com, cleveland.com, dailymail.co.uk, dispatch.com
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