Jamal Hunter spent a stretch of 2011 in jail -- and he still bears the scars.
Hunter has filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and individual law enforcers for failing to properly protect him, after he says inmates scalded his genitals with boiling water and two deputies attacked him. See photos, the suit and more below.
According to the complaint, Hunter was arrested on April 29, 2011 on what's described as a "misdemeanor domestic charge" and placed in the Denver Detention Center's fifth-floor pod with a cellmate named Chris, "who snored loudly and frequently defecated on himself during his sleep."
As a result, Hunter requested that he be transferred within the same pod. Instead, he was sent to another one, where an inmate with Tourette's syndrome had a profane outburst in the shower. No fight actually took place, the suit maintains, but Hunter was shipped to another pod anyhow -- and this one "housed residents facing more significant criminal charges than his own," including some who were actively abusing drugs.
Again, Hunter complained, asking to be jailed alongside less dangerous inmates -- but the next pod he wound up in housed arrestees facing even more severe charges, including several who were gang members.
After these inmates threatened Hunter, he repeatedly made written requests for a transfer, but to no avail. Then, on July 18, the suit says his cellmates accused him of "snitching and insulting them behind their backs." Their alleged response began when one person put Hunter into a chokehold while another punched him in the face, then grabbed his legs and tied them together with string. After that, he was picked up and carried to a bed, where he was again slugged in the face, resulting in a broken nose.
Next, he was untied, ordered to strip and told to enter the cell's shower. He was afraid he was going to be raped, but instead, he was punched a few more times before an inmate returned with a container of scalding water and poured its contents on his waist, thighs and genitals.
At that point, Hunter passed out, only to awaken some time later screaming in agony, the suit says.
Continue to read more about the assault, as well as to see additional photos, the lawsuit and more. Despite this attack, Hunter declined to press charges against the inmates, fearing that if he did so, his life would be in danger. Instead, he asked again that he be housed with prisoners jailed for lower-level offenses like his own. But on July 31, he filed a grievance in which he claimed, "I have been made an official enemy of the Denver Sheriff Department" and accused one deputy in particular of shaking him down.
The next day, the deputy in question allegedly responded to a complaint from Hunter by asking, "What would you like me to do? Kiss your ass?" After another verbal exchange or two, the suit claims the deputy grabbed Hunter by the back of his neck, twisted his arm behind his back, forced him into his cell, slammed him down onto the bunk and strangled him. A couple of other deputies intervened -- but among other things, Hunter was reportedly tased in the process.
After his release, Hunter tried to reopen the burning case, but little appears to have happened over the next several months, leading to the lawsuit, which asks for punitive damages and more to be paid by Denver and assorted deputies.
The sheriff's department declined to go into detail about the lawsuit when contacted by 9News about the lawsuit -- but a statement from director and undersheriff Gary Wilson was released. It reads:
We are aware of the incident involving Jamal Hunter which occurred at the Downtown Detention Center. Mr. Hunter alleged that he was assaulted by two inmates who were housed in his unit. Mr. Hunter refused to press criminal charges against the inmates he claimed assaulted him and other potential witnesses have not cooperated with our investigation. The case is still under investigation for procedural violations against the Deputy who was responsible for supervision of the unit.
On a related note, the Office of the Independent Monitor has just released its report for the second quarter of 2012, and complaints against police and sheriff's officers are down significantly from the same period a year ago.
Continue to read the lawsuit, the OIM report and 9News' coverage of the case.
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