MICHAEL FORREST AM?3549

by Julian Heicklen

Assault of April 12, 1996

On April 12, 1996, Michael Forrest AM?3549 was assaulted by anonymous inmates at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Graterford, taken to Suburban General Hospital in Norristown, PA, and admitted to intensive care. Dr. Forance told Mr. Forrest that he suffered 4 consecutive seizures and a broken nose in 8 different places. Mr. Forrest also had two black eyes which needed a stitch, bumps, and bruises at different parts of his head and body. He remained at suburban General Hospital until April 16, 1996, when SCI Graterford officials insisted that he be returned to prison.

Dr. Forance and Dr. Kirshner recommended corrective surgery after the swelling goes down. The doctors prescribed antibiotics and pills for pain. It was recommended that Mr. Forrest be placed in the prison dispensary. Instead, he was returned to the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) and forced to double cell with inmates who were on psychotropic sedative drugs.

Mr. Forrest believes that the assailants of April 12, 1996, were hired by the Security Office at SCI Graterford. The assailants hit him in the back of his head, and he blacked out. He was told weeks later that there were 5 inmates kicking him in the face. He claims that he had no enemies, no arguments, no debts, no problems with any of the inmates. The only problems he was having were with the Security Office, Superintendent Donald Vaughn, and CO Nedab, who was constantly strip-searching his visitors and giving him constant blood tests and taking urine samples and hair samples. All the tests were negative, according to Mr. Forrest.

No Misconduct Report was filed against Mr. Forrest for the assault of April 12, 1996.

Assault of July 14, 1996

On July 14, 1996, Mr. Forrest was assaulted by a recorded mentally ill cellmate with whom he was forced to live, and who was on drugs. Mr. Forrest was refused medical treatment because defendant CO Barns (presumably the cellmate) refused to report the incident and call medical staff. Instead Mr. Forrest claims that he was placed in a shower room, handcuffed and in pain, with his nose bleeding and a swollen groin. Then he was moved to another section of M-Block, C?Wing where cells are occupied by the mentally ill. He filed a Grievance to Mary Ann Williams, Medical Staff Doctor Moyer, Counselor Giardino, and Program Review committee (PRC) members Callender, Smith, and Deputy Superintendent Lorenzo. He also signed up for sick call.

Assault of June 4, 1997

On June 4, 1997, Michael Forrest, AM?3549 was transferred to SCI Graterford from SCI Greene County on a federal court writ. At approximately 8:30 PM on June 4, 1997, upon reception in J block in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU), Mr. Forrest was punched, beaten repeatedly with black jacks, and kicked with boots, while in shackles and handcuffs, by Correctional Officers (COs) W. Hobnolt, R. Alexy, H. Ford, Stott, Sergeant Kelly, and approximately 5 un-named COs. According to Mr. Forrest, Captain Blumfield ordered the assault. Captain Blumfield already was named in a prior law suit, and (according to Mr. Forrest) the beating was in retaliation by Superintendent Donald Vaughn, Bessie Williams, Mary Ann Williams, Dr. Smith, Deputy Superintendent Lorenzo, Mr. Calendar, etc. (all named in the law suit). Witnesses to the beating were M. L. Nearhoof CB?0867, W. Anderson AS?2034, L. Harris CF?1518, A. Whitehead AS?2740, A. Coleman CG?7135, S. Mills BT?4558, B. Sanders AM?7374, Michael Smith CE?7786, and Dee Campbell AY?4427. There were other witnesses, but the guards moved Mr. Forrest before he could get all of their names.

On arrival at SCI Graterford, Mr. Forrest was taken to the J-block barber shop by Sgt. Kelly, COs Hobnolt, Ford, and Alexy. Forrest explained to Sgt. Kelly that there had been a mistake, and that he was single-cell status pending investigation by the Security Office. Sgt. Kelly left to phone Capt. Blumfield at the Security Office. Upon his return, Sgt. Kelly was accompanied by at least 5 more officers and ordered CO Ford to place shackles on Mr. Forrest's feet (in addition to handcuffs). CO Ford asked if Mr. Forrest was going to M-block. After the shackles were fastened, Sgt. Kelly punched Mr. Forrest in the face, and COs Hobnolt, Alexy, and at least 5 more COs knocked Forrest down with their fists and with black jacks, and started kicking him with their boots. Mr. Forrest claims that he did not resist as said officials picked him up and dragged and carried him out of the barber shop, across center, and down F-wing corridor, repeatedly beating him with black jacks and kicking him. Inmates yelled at the guards to stop beating Mr. Forrest, but the guards continued the beating as they carried him to F-5 cell, kicking and beating him with black jacks, and then slammed his head against the back of the cell until he blacked out.

The following witnesses watched the beating and heard the noise from the barber shop and as the guards carried and dragged Mr. Forrest down F-corridor past their cells: L. Nearhoof, Dee Campbell, M. Smith, B. Sanders, S. Mills, A. Coleman, A. Whitehead, and L. Harris. I have copies of affidavits from A. Coleman CG?7135 of June 8, 1997; from B. Sanders AM?7374 of June 6, 1997; from M. Smith CE?7786 of June 6, 1997; and from S. Mills B?4558 of June 8, 1997. These are identical and state that on June 4, 1997, they witnessed Michael Forrest being assaulted at SCI Graterford by COs R. Alexy, H. Ford, W. RoBnolt, Stott, and Sergeant Kelly. These individuals used unnecessary excessive force by hitting Mr. Forrest with blackjacks and repeatedly kicking him until he was unconscious. Each of the witnesses was among many inmates who yelled for guards to stop the beating and to get medical attention. Nurse Karen Pitzach arrived 1.5 hours after Mr. Forrest became unconscious.

I received a letter from Leroy Banks AK?6653 dated September 21, 1998. Mr. Banks was in Graterford in RHU J-block F-wing. He was five cells away form that of Michael Forrest. With a mirror Mr. Banks saw the guards rush Mr. Forrest to his RHU J-F #5 cell. They threw Mr. Forrest into his cell. The inmates heard a lot of noise, so they asked the guards what was happening. The guards ran out of Forrest's cell. Mr. Forrest was passed out for a while, so his cellmate Anderson kept calling his name to get some attention to get the nurse. The inmates asked the wing guard CO Ford to make sure the nurses came. He said that they were on the way. The nurses showed up about 30-40 minutes later.

I received a letter from Walter Anderson AS?2034 dated March 21, 1998. Mr. Anderson was a witness to a portion of the assault. He does not remember the guards' names, but he does remember their faces. On the morning of June 4, 1997, he went on WRIT (temporary transfer) to SCI Graterford from SCI Greene. On the evening of June 4, 1997, he arrived at SCI Graterford with several prisoners, including Michael Forrest. Because he was on AC status, he was placed in the RHU (J/F, 5-cell).

It was dark outside when he was placed in the cell. He was in the cell for about 15 minutes, when the electric door popped open. A minute or two later, he heard a noise in the walkway that sounded as if a physical struggle was occurring. At that moment, he stood up moving to go to the cell door to find out what was happening. Before he could take two steps, four COs walked up to his cell forcefully carrying Mike Forrest. As the COs proceeded to place Mike Forrest in Anderson's cell, Mike told them that he was not supposed to have a cellie (cellmate). He told the guards not to place him in Anderson's cell. The guards proceeded to bring Forrest into the cell head first. As the guards were bringing Mike Forrest through the iron gates of the cell, one of the guards began poking him in the back and hitting him in the body area with a night stick. Mike grabbed the night stick. At that moment the guard holding Forrest's right arm began banging the left side of Forrest's head against the wall. Then the guards threw Mike into the cell, and his head hit the edge of the toilet as he was landing. The guards then closed the iron gate and left.

Mr. Anderson asked Mike if he was OK. He did not move nor was there any response from him. Anderson began shaking the cell gate and shouting for the guards to get a nurse. Other inmates who heard the disturbance began doing the same. Two of the guards later returned to see what the noise was all about. Mike was still motionless on the concrete floor. Anderson told them that Mike needed a doctor. The guards returned about an hour later with a nurse and a lieutenant. Mr. Anderson was handcuffed and escorted to the shower area while the nurse and guards went into the cell to check on Mike. Ten minutes later, when Anderson was escorted back to his cell, he noticed Mike sitting semi-conscious on the lower bunk bed. Anderson asked Mike how he was. Mike said that he had a headache. Anderson examined his head, and noticed that his head was bleeding in the area that hit the toilet. For several days Mike would suffer dizzy spells and black out. Several prisoners began giving Mike their names and signed affidavits describing what they witnessed and/or heard concerning the incident.

On July 2, 1997, Anderson and Forrest were moved to J/E, 13-cell in hopes of separating Mike from his witnesses. Anderson and Mike had concluded their reasons for being on WRIT a week after arriving at Graterford, and there was no reason to remain there. On July 23, 1997, both of them were transferred back to SCI Greene along with other prisoners.

Let it be noted that at the time Anderson was Mike's cellie, Mr. Anderson was on AC because of his assaultive behavior against staff and inmates. Anderson was not supposed to have a cellie because he posed a threat to other inmates. He had not had a cellie prior to Forrest since November 27, 1994, and he has not had another cellie until the present time (March 21, 1998). This concludes Mr. Anderson's statement.

Approximately 1.5 hours after Forrest blacked out, he was awakened by Nurse Karen Pitzach with fumes under his nose. Captain Blumfield and at least 10 guards were present inside and outside F?5 cell. Nurse Pitzach felt Mr. Forrest's head for lumps, but ignored the cuts, bruises, lumps and aggravated injuries, multiple bruises, cuts and bleeding of his groin. Ms. Pitzack said that the best she could do was to sign him up for sick call the next day. Mr. Forrest asked Captain Blumfield to remove the shackles and handcuffs. The guards surrounded him as Captain Blumfield stuck his foot into Forrest's chest and removed the handcuffs and shackles. Captain Blumfield said that he should leave them on all night.

After the nurse and guards left, inmates yelled down the corridor and offered their names and numbers for a hearing and advised Mr. Forrest that he has their support even for court. These inmates asked Mr. Forrest to make out affidavits or Declaration if he knew how. Mr. Forrest learned from his new cellmate, Mr. Anderson, that all of the inmates on the wing were banging on their bars and yelling for the guards to get a doctor for approximately 1.5 hours. I (Julian Heicklen) wrote to all of the witnesses, but received no response. Either my letters were undelivered or the witnesses were afraid to respond or chose to not respond.

At approximately 10:30 PM on June 4, 1997, Mr. Forrest received a Misconduct Report No. 535?605 written by Sgt. Kelly. The charge was refusing to obey an order and assault of officers.

On June 5, 1997, at approximately 8:00 AM, Dr. Wells examined Mr. Forrest and advised him that he had a concussion. He should rest until X-rays were taken and medication prescribed. At approximately 8:45 AM on June 5, 1997, Dr. Wells asked Mr. Forrest a few questions and prescribed pain medication, scheduled him for X-rays, and listed him to see another doctor for the blackout. Dr. Wells advised Forrest to lie down and rest.

At approximately 6:00 PM on June 5, 1997, Mr. Forrest received another Misconduct NO. 535?606, while lying in bed, for refusing to obey an order. The Misconduct state that CO_______ ordered Mr. Forrest to be escorted to Security Office to take pictures but he refused.

As a result of the beating, Mr. Forrest aggravated the injuries he sustained in an automobile accident of the April 9, 1997. Since then he has had 4 blackouts. Witness Anderson, now at SCI Pittsburgh, was a cell mate at SCI Graterford and saw the beating and post-beating blackouts that the medical staff at SCI Graterford refused to treat. Three of the blackouts were in F?5 cell, and the 4th blackout was in E?13 cell (another wing) after Mr. Forrest had been moved.

Inmate witnesses were discouraged from attending Mr. Forrest's hearing. Although the witness sheet only permits 3 witnesses, Mr. Forrest listed all of the above-named witnesses. To Mr. Forrest's knowledge, inmates Nearhoof and Whitehead were intimidated and discouraged from testifying at the Misconduct Hearing. Mr. Nearhoof later assured Forrest that he would testify in outside court. Inmate Anderson, who was at court, was refused as a witness at the Misconduct Hearing. The hearing Examiner refused to allow Mr. Forrest to continue the hearing until Mr. Anderson returned. Thus Mr. Forrest was denied witnesses to both Misconducts No. 535?605 and No. 535?606. Mr. Forrest appealed both Misconduct decisions to the Program Review Committee (PRC) and Superintendent Vaughn. Mr. Forrest was transferred back to SCI Greene County on July 16, 1997, without seeing a doctor for blackouts. The appeal to Superintendent Vaughn was transferred to Superintendent Varner at SCI Greene County. Mr. Forrest objected and appealed to DOC headquarters in Harrisburg. The Misconduct decisions were sustained. Mr. Forrest received 5 months in Disciplinary Custody (DC) RHU.

An investigator from the Office of Professional Relations (OPR) of the Department of Corrections (DOC) named Mr. Macon interviewed most of the witnesses, all of the guards, and Ms. Pitzach.

Mr. Forrest's injuries continue to bother him. He has filed sick call requests on February 2 and 23 and March 19, 1998. He claims that his back is killing him, that he has migraine headaches, blurred vision and spells of dizziness. He still has trouble sleeping and breathing.

Report of July 14, 2001

In a letter of July 14, 2001, Mr. Forrest reports that now he is at SCI Rockview, housed in the hospital, because there is no handicap facility available. The water is polluted, rust colored. He has been poisoned, vomiting blood with hiccups for over a week. His medical situation is chronic. He is being treated for seizures and given knock out drugs at night for pain.  He is in pain all day. He cannot find a comfortable position to sit, lie, or pry himself up with crutches. He has periodic sight loss. He sees dots on and off.  He hears varying degrees of sound. Chest pains have started recently. He has damaged nasal passages that shuts off breathing under central dry air that causes dry cough among prisoners and staff.  He has occassional nose bleeds and pounding headaches. Dr. Symons says that he will have these symptons as a result of the damage he has suffered.