ILNews

County jail officials in Southern Indiana accused of abusing inmates

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of former inmates accuses officials at the Floyd County jail of forcibly stripping the inmates of their clothing and keeping them naked in a padded cell for prolonged periods of time in violation of their constitutional rights.

The complaint, Gentry et al. v. Floyd County, Indiana, et al., 4:14-cv-00054, was filed June 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana by Louisville attorney Laura Landenwich of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams PLC.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege the defendants forcibly removed their clothing without any suspicion or probable cause of any threat and security risk. The plaintiffs charge the defendants regularly exposed the detainees’ naked bodies to officers of the opposite sex and subjected their bodies to harmful and extremely offensive touching.

The plaintiffs described the defendants’ conduct as torture.

“Defendants’ treatment of Plaintiffs and other class members is intolerable in a civilized society, and presents a marked departure from the standard to which the Western world adheres for the treatment of prisoners of war during wartime, let alone the standards of acceptable treatment for American citizens on American soil,” the lawsuit states.

Tabitha Gentry and the three other named plaintiffs were all arrested separately between February 2013 and May 2014 on various misdemeanor charges such as public intoxication and disorderly conduct. After being arrested and taken to the county jail, each allege they had their shoes, pants, shirt, and underwear removed by the Floyd County Sheriff’s deputies and were given only a small blanket, called a “smock,” with which to cover themselves. Also, they were not allowed to use the restroom facilities, having instead to use a drain in the floor as a toilet.

The lawsuit accuses the jail employees of dispensing pepper spray into Gentry’s cell then forcing her to walk naked to and from a washing station in front of male officers and male inmates. The suit also alleges that a Taser was used on plaintiff Vincent Minton’s buttocks, and plaintiff Adam Walker was subjected to Taser use seven times and choked until he lost consciousness.

Plaintiffs assert that through the “intentional and grossly negligent conduct” of the defendants, they were deprived of their rights guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, the plaintiffs allege they have suffered “physical harm, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish” as a result of the defendants not providing the proper training regarding unlawful searches, the reasonable use of force and the rights of detainees.

The lawsuit concludes that the plaintiffs and members of the class are entitled to both actual damages and punitive damages.

Moreover, the plaintiffs and the class requested the U.S. District Court to issue a declaratory judgment deeming unconstitutional all written policies and unwritten practices that subject detainees to these “humiliating and/or torturous practices” and to permanently enjoin the defendants from following or enforcing such policies and procedures.

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  2. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  3. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  4. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

  5. Unlike the federal judge who refused to protect me, the Virginia State Bar gave me a hearing. After the hearing, the Virginia State Bar refused to discipline me. VSB said that attacking me with the court ADA coordinator had, " all the grace and charm of a drive-by shooting." One does wonder why the VSB was able to have a hearing and come to that conclusion, but the federal judge in Indiana slammed the door of the courthouse in my face.

ADVERTISEMENT