MICHAEL DEVAUGHN CV­8630

by Julian Heicklen

Michael DeVaughn CV­8639 is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Greene County. On October 30, 1997, between 6:30 and 6:40 AM, Mr. DeVaughn was told by Correctional Officer (CO) Walker to take all of his property out of the cell and put it in the multi-purpose room, because his cell was going to be repaired. After Mr. DeVaughn and his cellmate, Nicholas Lebotisis, moved everything, they were told to sit in the day- room area, and they did. A few hours later, DeVaughn was told by CO Walker that if the paint was dry in his cell, he and his cellmate could move back in for count. Five minutes after they moved back into their cell, the cell door opened and they both stepped outside to see if they were wanted for anything. CO Walker said no and to lock back up, which they did. After 2­3 minutes the door was opened again by the maintenance crew supervisor. He asked the two of them to leave the cell, because work still needed to be done. Both of them stepped out.

CO Walker called Mr. DeVaughn to the desk and stated that he wanted to see him in the multi-purpose room. When CO Walker and Mr. DeVaughn went into the multi-purpose room and the door was shut, CO Walker screamed (according to DeVaughn) that he is not one of those guards who plays games, and when he tells DeVaughn to do something, he should do it. DeVaughn claims that he kept his composure and asked CO Walker to stop screaming and yelling and to step back out of his face. CO Walker then asked DeVaughn to turn around to be cuffed, because he was going to the hole (RHU). According to DeVaughn, Walker tried to grab him, but he pulled away. DeVaughn stated that Walker did not have to touch him, and then he complied with his orders. CO Walker handcuffed DeVaughn behind his back.

According to Mr. DeVaughn, CO Walker then grabbed the back of DeVaughn's head and tried to slam it into the wall. Mr. DeVaughn kept turning his head sideways, so that his face would not hit the wall. Then CO Walker punched him in the ribs a few times and called him names. He then called Sergeant Tempus, who came into the multi-purpose room. Sergeant Tempus placed DeVaughn against the wall and instructed CO Walker to leave. Lieutenant Esmond arrived and asked what happened? Mr. DeVaughn told him. Lieutenant Esmond then stepped out of the multi-purpose room for about 5 minutes before returning. He then stated that DeVaughn was a nigger who likes swinging at his guards. While Mr. DeVaughn was being escorted to RHU, Lieutenant Esmond and the COs were calling him nigger and pussy, and telling him what was going to happen to him once he was in RHU.

When Mr. DeVaughnreached RHU, he was stripped, searched, and placed in a cell for 4-1/2 days without any under-garments, sheets, blankets, toilet paper, or personal hygiene products. The central air unit was blowing cold air. Another inmate gave DeVaughn one of his sheets and some toilet paper, which Mr. DeVaughn pulled under the crack of his door. This inmate corroborates that Mr. DeVaughn was in his cell for several days naked without bedding or personal necessities. The inmate also stated that it was very cold in October and November, and the vents were blowing cold air.

Mr. DeVaughn had a big bump above his left ear. Pictures were taken of his head and he heard Lieutenant Esmond tell the doctor or medical examiner to report that nothing was the matter with DeVaughn when he arrived. DeVaughn also had to keep stating where the bump was on his head, when it was clearly visible.

CO Walker's version of events is stated in his Misconduct Report 02462, filed on October 10, 1997. At approximately 11:35 hours, CO Walker called out to cells on the B block B side to be opened for inmates returning from chow. Inmate CV­8630 stepped out of his cell (BB­58) and yelled across the tier "What's this fucking for?" CO Walker stated: "Lock in for count." CV­8630 came back out and yelled: "What do you fucking want us to do? This is fucking ridiculous." At this time approximately 24 inmates left their cells and went into the day-room area. Inmate maintenance workers were out and chow was returning. CO Walker reported to the desk. CV­8630 came down yelling "What do you fucking want me to do?" CO Walker stated "Step into the multi-purpose room for counseling." Inmate CV-8630 stepped into the multi-purpose room and started screaming about his cell not being done." Walker stated that he was locking for count. CV­8630 swung from the right hip upwardly at Walker's head with a clenched right fist. CO Walker stepped away, grabbed inmate's right wrist, placed him against the wall, and handcuffed him. CO Walker then called CO II Tempus. At this time CV­8630 came off the wall and turned screaming at CO Walker. CO Walker then placed him into the wall. Mr. DeVaughn was held by Sergeant Tempus until Lt. Esmond arrived to escort him to the RHU.

 This is a classic case of a minor misunderstanding escalating way out of proportion to the events that occurred. CO Walker orders inmates into their cell. Maintenance workers return from chow and order inmates out of their cell. CO Walker probably is unaware of this and thinks inmates are challenging him and refusing his order. He takes Mr. DeVaughn into the multi-purpose room to read him the riot act. An unpleasant and not cordial conversation ensues. CO Walker thinks that Mr. DeVaughn is going to take a swing at him. He grabs Mr. DeVaughn's arm and handcuff's him. Mr. DeVaughn must have cooperated with the cuffing or the officer could not have done it without a major fight. At some time DeVaughn's head hits the wall. This is verified, because medical came to take pictures.