“Rolley and Hampton remain imprisoned and have recovered from the injuries they suffered during the beatings.” attorney Eric Artrip
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Two inmates who were beaten while handcuffed in an Alabama prison are suing the former sergeant who now faces up to 20 years in prison for assaulting them last year.
Cortney Rolley and Christopher Hampton were handcuffed when they were beaten with a baton, kicked and punched by Sgt. Ulysses Oliver Jr., according to court records. It happened Feb. 16, 2019 at Elmore Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison about 15 miles north of Montgomery.
Among other injuries, Rolley, now 37, suffered a concussion, and Hampton, now 44, suffered a broken wrist, according to the lawsuit.
The two men are also suing several other prison employees, including a lieutenant and two guards who have since pleaded guilty to failing to stop the attack.
Rolley and Hampton remain imprisoned and have recovered from the injuries they suffered during the beatings, said Eric Artrip, the attorney who sued on their behalf.
But, Artrip said, the men are fearful of retaliation in response to their lawsuit and the criminal prosecution of the four prison employees.
Oliver, the now-former sergeant who assaulted the inmates, is named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with Warden Joseph Headley, Lt. Willie M. Burks, correctional officers Bryanna Nicole Mosley and Leon Troy Williams, and other unnamed prison employees.
Oliver pleaded guilty to two federal charges of violating Rolley and Hampton’s constitutional rights to protection against cruel and unusual punishment, according to the plea agreement. Sentencing is scheduled August 13. The case was prosecuted by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mosley and Williams were charged for failing to stop the beatings. Both pleaded guilty but haven’t yet been sentenced.
Burks is scheduled to face trial July 27 on charges of lying to a grand jury and depriving the prisoners of their rights under the color of law.
It’s unclear whether Mosley, Williams and Burks are still employed by the Alabama Department of Corrections. A department spokeswoman declined to comment on their employment status.
Court records do not list attorneys representing any of the defendants in the lawsuit. None of the defendants has responded to the lawsuit in court filings.
The seven-count lawsuit accuses Oliver and other prison employees of violating the men’s constitutional rights, conspiring to conceal the violations, battery, assault and negligence.
The men are seeking payment for damages, interest, court costs “and such other legal and equitable relief as this Court deems necessary and proper.” The lawsuit, which was filed this month in Elmore County court, doesn’t list a dollar amount.
“The failure of effective and well-crafted policies prohibiting the corporal punishment of restrained inmates at Elmore Correctional Facility has allowed, and will continue to allow, unfettered physical assault on and abuse of such inmates by correctional officers,” the lawsuit says.
Samantha Rose, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Corrections, declined to answer questions about whether the prison system has implemented any changes in policy or training in the year since the beatings happened.
“Out of respect for the legal process, which is ongoing, the ADOC cannot provide comment on this matter,” Rose said in an email to AL.com.
The lawsuit is being pursued as a class action on behalf of all Elmore inmates who have been or will be “at risk of being assaulted or abused by correctional officers while handcuffed, shackled or restrained in any fashion,” the filing says.
Alabama’s prison system has been under intense scrutiny since April of 2019 when the U.S. Department of Justice released a report alleging unconstitutional conditions and levels of violence.
The beatings happened in a hallway just after visitation ended at the prison, court records state. Rolley and Hampton were taken for questioning about whether they had received contraband left at the prison fence line that Tuesday. (No contraband was found, according to the lawsuit, and neither man has since been charged with a contraband crime.)
Oliver pulled Rolley into the hallway, shoved him against a wall and knocked him to the ground, according to the lawsuit. While Rolley was on the ground, with his hands cuffed behind his back, Oliver punched and kicked him more than a dozen times, and beat him with a baton about 19 times, according to the lawsuit and court records in the criminal case.
Rolley lost consciousness and defecated on himself, according to the lawsuit.
It happened as Burks and the other guards watched, the lawsuit says.
Next Oliver dragged Hampton into the hallway, where he beat the handcuffed prisoner with his fists, feet and a baton, according to the lawsuit and criminal court records.
Again, neither Burks nor the other prison guards intervened. As he watched the beatings, Burks said, “It’s fair,” according to the lawsuit.
Hampton suffered a broken wrist and multiple contusions and abrasions, according to the lawsuit, and his face required stitches.
Rolley suffered a concussion, ruptured blood vessel in his eye, lacerated scalp, and trauma to the head, back, arm, elbow and leg, according to the lawsuit.
Initially both men were taken for medical treatment at Staton Correctional Facility, a prison less than a mile away, because Elmore doesn’t have an infirmary, according to the lawsuit. But hours after the assault, Rolley was transferred to a hospital for treatment.
The lawsuit alleges that as warden, Headley failed to implement policies that would ensure the health and safety of the inmates.
Headley, who was the warden of Elmore at the time of the beatings, is now listed on the prison system website as the warden at Staton. The warden position at Elmore is listed as vacant on the website.
After the prisoners were beaten by Oliver, Burks threatened the men and told them not to tell anyone about the beatings, according to the lawsuit. He told them to sign statements admitting to the contraband offense, the lawsuit alleges.
“If you don’t sign it, then we’re really going to f–k you up,” Burks told the men, according to the lawsuit.
“In grave fear for their safety,” both signed, the lawsuit says.
Rolley is serving a 30-year sentence for the abduction of two women in Gadsden in 2001. He pleaded guilty to burglary, robbery, kidnapping, sodomy and rape and began serving his sentence in 2003. Rolley is now housed in medium security at St. Clair Correctional Facility.
Hampton is serving a 33-year sentence for first-degree assault and violating Alabama’s sex-offender registration requirements. He was convicted and sentenced in Marshall County in 2000. He is now housed at Easterling Correctional, a medium-security prison in southeast Alabama.
Both men have tentative parole consideration dates in October of this year, according to prison system records, though hearings haven’t been scheduled by the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Court dates haven’t yet been scheduled in the lawsuit.