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Four TDCJ Guards Resign, Seven Suspended for Beating Handcuffed Prisoner Into Coma

After allegedly attacking one guard on September 5, 2023, Texas prisoner Kiheem Grant, 48, was brutally beaten by a group of 11 more, four of whom have now resigned from the state Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Seven more were disciplined. But no criminal charges have been filed. Grant remains hospitalized in a coma.

The events unfolded at the Coffield Unit, where Grant was held in the “Alternative Living Unit”—another name for solitary confinement—when a simmering feud with guard Sgt. Gabriel Kweh erupted in violence. Grant wounded the guard with a homemade weapon, sending him to a hospital for treatment.

Neighboring prisoners reported hearing Grant acknowledge to a responding guard that his cell would need to be searched and that he would not resist. When a cell extraction team then arrived, they secured Grant in handcuffs. Then they rushed into his cell and beat him—with one even taking off his helmet and using it to pummel the prisoner.

“This guy was just completely unresponsive, I mean, he’s out cold now and they’re just continuing to beat him,” said Tim Nixon, a prisoner in a neighboring cell.

“I’ve seen a lot of use[s] of force—I’ve been involved in a few,” said the occupant of another nearby cell, Harold Laird. “That probably was the most brutal sounding use of force I’d ever heard.”

A report by TDCJ’s Office of the Inspector General listed just one suspect in Grant’s beat-down: former guard Abayomi Ipoola. He resigned the following month, in October 2023. Three other guards—Oluwatosin Olorunfemi, Albert Kwarteng and Wilner Paul—also resigned. TDCJ suspended another seven guards: Kevin Calip, Javonte Tramble, Zandrick Morrow, Chelsea Williams, Miraida Pena, Chris High and Todd Fritz.

Lance Lowry, past president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees, the union representing guards, noted that 430 or 60% of guard positions at the prison were vacant at the time, an “explosive formula” that he said guaranteed “you’re gonna see more use of force.”

“The number of people who are willing to work in a brutal environment where there is just unbelievable heat every single day, where you’re understaffed, overworked and underpaid? Who wants to do that?” agreed state Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston), whose proposal to install air conditioning throughout TDCJ was gutted by the chamber’s Republican majority.

Loretta Grant, the mother of the now-comatose assault victim, said her son “used to run away a lot” when he was young, and “when he joined that gang of Bloods and whatnot, he just went crazy.” But for the guards who attacked him, she “would really like to see these criminals, you know, get punished.”

“You know, they’re walking around,” she added. “Whether they work or not, they [are] still walking around, probably getting a paycheck, and my son ended up in the hospital damn near dead.”  


Sources: KERA, Texas Public Radio

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