A lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Florence, South Carolina provides graphic details of an alleged inmate stabbing at a Palmetto State prison – and accuses three correctional officers of misconduct in their handling of the incident.
The stabbing in question is alleged to have taken place in the early morning hours of January 12, 2017 at Kershaw Correctional Institution, a level two (a.k.a. medium security) facility operated by the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) in Lancaster County, S.C.
This news outlet did not report on the incident cited in the lawsuit as this is the first we have heard of it. We did, however, report on another stabbing at this facility in April of 2017 – an attack that left three guards wounded.
The federal lawsuit tied to the January 2017 stabbing – filed earlier this month by SCDC inmate Leon Gates – named three SCDC officers (Brian Masterson, Lester Small and Garrick Rollings) as defendants.
According to the suit, Gates was stabbed nine times by a fellow inmate – Jered Gilliard – after Masterson allegedly “abandoned his post” immediately prior to the attack. Gilliard and another inmate were reportedly allowed out of their cells by Masterson to obtain a mop “to clean up their overflowing toilet.”
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“Inmates frequently obtain a mop when they plan to stab another inmate,” the complaint noted, pointing out that such an excuse provides them with a reason to be out of their cells – as well as a means of cleaning up after an attack.
Gates was out of his cell awaiting a transfer to another facility at the time of the alleged assault. He sustained stab wounds to his neck, shoulder, forearm and back – and suffered fractured and severed tendons in his right hand as a result of the stabbing.
Upon returning to the wing where the alleged attack took place, the lawsuit claimed Masterson encountered a “bloodbath.” Still, he allegedly “did nothing to intervene, offered no medical treatment and allowed Gilliard to go up the stairs to (Gates) cell” where the alleged attacker “spit on (Gates) apparently dead body.”
Here is a look at the pleading …Leon-Gates-Federal-Complaint
The lawsuit further claimed Masterson “was induced by the attackers to leave the unit after releasing them from their cells for the purpose of attacking (Gates).”
“Masterson actively allowed the inmates to attack (Gates),” the complaint alleged.
As for Small and Rollings, these supervisory correctional officers were alleged to have had “actual or constructive knowledge that Masterson was engaged in conduct that posed a pervasive and unreasonable risk of constitutional injury” to inmates.
In fact, the suit claimed these two officers showed “deliberate indifference” and at times “express or tacit authorization” of the alleged misconduct by Masterson.
Filed on Gates’ behalf by Anderson, S.C. attorney Kyle White, the lawsuit demands a jury trial and seeks actual and punitive damages as well as attorneys fees and any other relief deemed just and proper. A separate lawsuit against SCDC was filed in the S.C. sixth judicial circuit.
That case is still pending …
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