A South Carolina inmate who was allegedly stabbed 20 times by masked men in his cell is suing prison officials in federal court.
Marco Owens, of Greenville County, filed the federal lawsuit this week against the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), its director Bryan Stirling, and three other prison officials (not fully named in lawsuit) in the 2018 stabbing incident at Broad River Correctional Institute in Columbia.
In the 25-page handwritten lawsuit obtained by FITSNews, Owens said officials violated his civil rights — specifically citing eighth and fourteenth amendment violations — by failing to protect him from the assault and failing to medically treat his injuries.
According to Owens, he was stabbed over 20 times in his neck, head, back, chest and leg in the January 2018 incident. He also fractured his ankle and wasn’t treated for that at the hospital, according to the lawsuit.
The incident caused him “mental anguish” and he is now “paranoid around crowds,” the lawsuit said.
Owens is suing the prison officials for failure to protect him from the assault “by five inmates with masks” while in his cell, according to the lawsuit.
He said at the time of the incident, Officer Cokly (whose first name was not listed in the lawsuit) was in charge of Owens’ unit and releasing other prisoners to the cafeteria.
According to the lawsuit, Owens “fought to escape his room” and broke his ankle as he was “running for his life.”
Owens was taken to the Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital, where he was “attached to two IVs because of all the blood he lost,” the lawsuit said.
After Owens was released from the hospital, he filed a grievance in the assault and said “all his property was stolen,” the lawsuit said.
He was later transferred from Broad River to Ridgeland Correctional Institute, where he still suffered from his injuries, according to the lawsuit. He said he complained about his existing nerve damage to the medical officials at the prison and they told him “there’s nothing they can do.”
“Defendants, their agents, and employees with knowledge of endangering plaintiff’s health and well-being (were) in violation of the rights secured to plaintiff under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the lawsuit states.
Owens claims the facility is “known for violent attacks and killings” and correctional officials had knowledge of inadequate monitoring by jailers and the ready availability of weapons for inmates.”
Owens is serving a near 50-year prison sentence for several violent crimes in Greenville County including assault and battery with intent to kill, armed robbery, and kidnapping from the early 2000s, according to his online prison record.
Since the 2018 stabbing incident, Owens has been accused of striking an inmate with/without a weapon, possessing a weapon on multiple occasions, and possessing drugs on multiple occasion.
He’s expected to be released from prison in 2047. He requested a jury trial and appears to be representing himself in the case.
Violence and lawsuits
In recent years, the SCDC, has been rocked by surging violence in its facilities, and with that, lawsuits too.
According to a (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier investigative analysis looking at 2013-2018 data, South Carolina prisons settle more than 100 claims a year with inmates. However, less than inmates are unlikely to receive any money from the claims. Each year, between 7 and 30 percent of the inmates who filed complaints were awarded money.
Last week, a former prisoner who sued SCDC for wrongful death after her baby died in a toilet while she was giving birth at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution prison settled for $1.15 million, the (Columbia, SC) State newspaper reported.
The warden of that facility reportedly retired last month among allegations of inmate abuse.
Weeks ago, Stirling asked South Carolina lawmakers for $100 million to “upgrade security and raise employees salaries,” the Associated Press reported.
We will continue to keep a close eye on this issue….
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? We have an open microphone policy! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.