BEATING AT SCI PITTSBURGH
By Julian Heicklen
May 2, 2001
On March 27, 2000, Bruce X. Cooper AY?8716 was standing by the yard door at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Pittsburgh, while other inmates were coming from and going to the dinner meal. Correctional Officer (CO) Faith questioned Cooper about inmate Ideen. Mr. Cooper said that he did not know Ideen. CO Faith then asked why Cooper gave him that information about Ideen. Mr. Cooper saw that Ideen was in the vicinity and overheard the conversation. Mr. Cooper claims that he never gave any information about Ideen to DOC personnel, though he does know Ideen. On June 23, 2000, at approximately 10:00 AM, Mr. Cooper was locked in his single cell, when his door opened. Mr. Cooper was sitting on the floor watching TV. Before Cooper could rise, he was knocked to the floor from a blow to the head. He was hit again and again with what he thought was the sound of a pipe. The assailant was calling Cooper a snitch and a rat. Cooper did not get to see the assailant, and there were no witnesses.
Mr. Cooper went to the SCI Piitsburgh hospital at approximately 10:05 AM, according to Captain Yurick. The physician (Dr. Polando) determined that Cooper was stabbed in the head with an ice pick type object. However the injury to his arms was not that of an ice pick, but more like that of a pipe. At the prison hospital, internal security interviewed the staff. They asked if the wound could be self inflicted. According to Mr. Cooper, Dr. Polando told CO Fitzgerald that the wounds were not self-inflicted.
Mr. Cooper was placed in isolation until the investigation could be completed. The Department of Corrections (DOC) claims that the wounds were self inflicted to permit Cooper to file a law suit for damages. Mr. Cooper was charged with misconduct for lying to a CO based on the testimony of three inmates. Presumably they stated that Cooper discussed inmate Indeen with them, though Cooper had said that he did not do so. Cooper has not seen the informantsÕ reports.
Mr. Cooper filed an Inmate Grievance on May 29, 2000, complaining that CO Faith placed him in danger when he questioned him within earshot of inmate Indeen.
There is a response of June 9, 2000, signed by Tim Collins, the Grievance Coordinator, but answered (and signed) by Captain Yurick, Grievance Officer. The response states that CO Faith admitted to CooperÕs accusation. CO Faith stated that he meant no harm and meant it as a joke. He felt that because of CooperÕs reputation as not being that type of person, everyone would have taken it as a joke. Officer Faith realizes that what he said was inappropriate and was apologetic. Action has been taken to see that this does not recur in the future. Captain Yurick feels that CooperÕs reputation for not being a snitch has not been tarnished.
Misconduct Report A220108 was filed on June 30, 2000, by Captain Yurick. It states that on June 23, 2000, at approximately 10:05 hours, Cooper reported to the SCI Pittsburgh hospital with injuries on his head and forearm. At 15:30 hours, during an interview with Yurick and Sgt. Story, Cooper testified that an unknown inmate came into his cell at approximately 10:00 hours, called him a snitch, and struck him in the head and arm with an unknown object.
The Misconduct Report further states that during an investigation it has been concluded that Cooper inflicted these injuries on himself to solidify a lawsuit that he is preparing against CO Faith for jokingly referring to him as a snitch within earshot of other inmates. A confidential source of information (CSI) testified that he observed Cooper go into his cell at 9:45 hours on June 23, 2000, and lock his door. The CSI remained on the level and saw that when the cell doors were opened at approximately 10:00 hours, he saw no-one go into CoopersÕ cell. He saw Cooper come out of his cell, and he appeared to be normal.
In the Misconduct Report, Cooper was not charged with self-infliction of the wound. Instead he was charged with lying about not discussing the incident with CO Faith with other inmates.
It is difficult to give the CSI reports credibility for the following reasons:
1. Mr. Cooper was not shown the affidavits.
2. Inmates were out to harm Mr. Cooper for presumably being an informant. Thus they had a motive to give false testimony.
3. CSI get rewarded for telling the DOC what it wants to hear. In effect, the CSI have been bribed.
4. How could Mr. Cooper appear normal at 10:00 AM, as stated by the one CSI whose report was summarized in the Misconduct Report, when he reported to the hospital at 10:05 AM, as reported by Captain Yurick, presumably from hospital records?
5. Mr. Cooper was not charged with self infliction in the Misconduct Report.
6. Is it really believable that someone would put an ice pick into his head and injure his arm just to make a better law suit?