If you thought that being in the midst of a global pandemic would inspire folks to act a little more humanely, well, you would unfortunately be wrong.
Buzzfeed News reports that Bradford Skinner, an inmate at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, was choked by a sheriff’s deputy after asking for medical care. On April 3, Skinner began experiencing a cough and chest pain. Concerned that he may have contracted COVID-19, he began asking prison officials for medical help. He was initially given some lemon, honey and ginger to make tea. When he sought further help the same man brushed him off.
From Buzzfeed News:
Skinner said when he tried to ask a different official for help, the first official threatened him with a riot incitement charge and called in additional deputies. He said that was the last thing he remembered before being choked and restrained by a sheriff’s deputy and other prison facility employees.
Video of the incident shows Skinner being held by his neck while in handcuffs. He is then forcibly held over a railing while a group of officers try to put leg restraints on him. Skinner clearly loses consciousness during the incident as his arms go limp while the officer holds him by his neck. Skinner maintains that he was asking the officers to make a phone call before the events of the video transpire.
From Buzzfeed News:
“I am being punished for being sick. If this wasn’t on camera, it would have been swept under the rug and fell on deaf ears,” Skinner said in a statement provided by his lawyers.
Warden Dennis Grimes has another version of events. He released a statement alleging that Skinner “attempted to escape by jumping from a moving van and attempted to assault a guard before trying to escape again and incite a riot.” He added that Skinner will be charged with “Escape, Assault and Inciting a Riot.”
While Skinner was eventually tested for COVID-19, he has yet to receive his results. Neither the warden nor the sheriff’s office has commented on Skinner’s medical status. Rev. Alexis Anderson, who works with East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition, told Buzzfeed News that relatives of those incarcerated in the prison have been calling the organization “in a panic because [inmates] are sick or have preexisting conditions and couldn’t get anyone to take them seriously.” So far, approximately 12 people in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison have tested positive for COVID-19.