Inmates facing riot charges claim actions were protest

September 17, 2010

TRUCKSVILLE – In what they called a protest, six inmates from a state prison in Dallas were charged Thursday with instigating a riot in April after barricading themselves in their cells and throwing human waste at prison guards trying to break up the disturbance.

The men face felony counts of rioting, while one faces five felony charges of aggravated harassment by a prisoner. The inmates claim they were protesting abuses inside the prison’s solitary confinement wing and targeted for providing information to a human rights group.

“You are refusing to hear anything I’m saying,” said Carrington A. Keys, who acted as his own attorney during his hearing Wednesday. “This is a kangaroo court.”

The six men were transported to Magisterial District Judge James E. Tupper’s office, but the 29-year-old Keys was the lone inmate to have a preliminary hearing Wednesday. The hearings for Duane Peter, 39; Anthony Kelly, 37; Derrick Stanley, 30; Anthony Locke, 31; and Andre Jacobs, 28, were continued.

On April 29, the men hung bedsheets to keep guards from peering into their cells and used the cloth to secure their doors shut, said Trooper Christopher Wilson. When an extraction team entered the cells, he said six guards were pelted with feces and urine.

In testimony, Lt. David Mosier, who heads the extraction team, said he gave “numerous warnings” to Keys and said guards would raid the cells if the bedding wasn’t taken down.

“He refused all orders,” Mosier said. “At that point I ordered the extraction team to enter.”

For the inmates, the charges are retaliation after each member provided evidence to an investigator from Human Rights Coalition, a nonprofit group advocating on behalf of prisoners, for a report documenting abuse at the facility.

In early April, accounts provided by the men were included in a 93-page coalition report on conditions at the Dallas prison. The accounts included racial slurs, threats of violence, withholding of food and water and retribution for filing grievances and lawsuits alleging abuse, said coalition investigator Bret Grote, who wrote the document. After its release, he said a copy was mailed to Jacobs, which was intercepted by security personnel at the prison.

“There wasn’t much time between the report going into the prison, until the start of food deprivation and verbal threats,” Grote said.

On April 25, matters came to a head when a fellow inmate spoke up against the treatment, was denied food and then forcibly removed from his cell three days later, Grote said. In response, he said Keys, Jacobs and Kelly decided to stage a protest the next day.

“We covered our windows to obstruct count, refused to answer, barricaded our doors … and forced cell extractions,” Keys wrote in a letter, which was included by the Human Rights Coalition in a follow-up report on the incident released in August.

Offered the chance to cross-examine Rosier and Sgt. Donald Buck, who was tasked with videotaping the extraction, Keys called the hearing “biased and prejudiced.” He also said requests for documents and subpoenas for witnesses had been ignored by the court, violating his right to due process.

“How can I make my case without witnesses,” Keys said to Tupper. “Everything I have filed is being disregarded. You’re making this a one-sided case.”

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