Beatings at jail prompted riot, lawyer, activist say

A community activist, an attorney for two inmates and family members are disputing the Hinds County Sheriff Department’s version of what led to Monday’s 12-hour standoff/riot at the detention center.

“We are asking for a thorough investigation,” community activist David Archie said Wednesday.

Archie said the public has just heard the Sheriff’s Department side of what happened.

“The reason this so-called riot happened is that three young men (inmates) were beaten up,” Archie said.

During a news conference outside the Sheriff’s Department, one of the three inmates he named as being beaten up, called Archie via phone from the Detention Center.

Archie told the inmate not to answer a reporter’s question as to how he got a phone inside the jail.

Archie said the disturbance initially began after three deputies had given inmate Kendall Johnson, 25, a “good whipping.”

Sheriff Tyrone Lewis has said he didn’t know of any inmate being abused at the detention center.

Chief Deputy Chris Picou and Sheriff Department spokesman Capt. Joseph Daughtry stood nearby while the news conference was taking place.

When asked later via telephone about Archie’s allegation that the department hadn’t been forthcoming about the incident, Daughtry said he would return the call. He hadn’t returned the call by 5 p.m.

Archie said Johnson told other inmates what happened and he had the scars and bruises to prove it.

“We believe facts have shown multiple civil rights violations,” said Martin Perkins, who said he is the attorney for Johnson and another inmate, Arsenio Butler, who is listed in jail records as Ronnie Tillmon.

“There must be a proper investigation,” Perkins said.

Perkins said he wants the allegations of the beating of Johnson and two other inmates investigated.

Archie said the department should have a videotape of the incident.

Johnson’s mother, Delores Walker, and Butler’s mother, Keisha McAllister, said they are concerned about their sons’ safety in the jail.

“Whatever is going on needs to stop,” McAllister said. “No one wants to see their child bruised up.”

Perkins said inmates still have rights.

Prisoners rights attorney Ron Welch said he toured the jail in the spring, but the tour was officials showing him problems with jail door locks.

Welch said he wasn’t speaking about any situation at the Hinds County Detention Center, but he said often when there are alleged beatings by jailers it’s due to lack of training or inadequate staffing.

Damage from Monday’s disturbance left uninhabitable one of the detention center’s housing units that had housed 183 inmates.

Some inmates were taken to surrounding counties and other moved to other units in the detention center.|mostpopular|text|FRONTPAGE

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