Officers at an Ohio prison watched and laughed behind a locked door as an inmate slipped his handcuffs, pulled out a homemade blade, and repeatedly stabbed four fellow prisoners who were handcuffed to a table and couldn’t defend themselves, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday by two of the injured men.
Shamieke Pugh and Maurice Lee also allege that officers hadn’t strip-searched the attacker as required and didn’t provide first aid to the bleeding inmates for more than 10 minutes after the June 2017 attack at the maximum-security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
All four survived the attack, which occurred as they were playing cards and was recorded on video obtained by The Associated Press. The attacker had been seated at a neighboring table.
Lee, now 27, was stabbed twice. Pugh, now 29, said he was stabbed at least 10 times before another inmate freed himself and tackled the assailant.
The man acting in self-defense was pepper-sprayed by officers, but the attacker wasn’t, according to the federal lawsuit.
The suit filed against the warden, two officers and other staff alleges violations of constitutional rights, including deliberate indifference to potential harm and different treatment of the attacker, who is white, compared with the other inmates, who are black. It also alleges prison staff knew the attacker was a safety threat but failed to prevent the violence.
Messages seeking comment were left for Ohio’s prisons department and the union that represents prison officers.
Prison officials won’t say how the attacker, Greg Reinke, smuggled homemade knives from his cell and slipped his cuffs.
Pugh believes guards arranged the stabbing. Reinke denied that but said officers condoned it. Reinke also “stated that he just felt like killing someone,” according to a prison report.
The Scioto County prosecutor said he found no evidence of a setup. No guards were disciplined.
Reinke already was serving life in prison for a 2004 shooting in Cleveland. He was sentenced last week to an additional 86 years for the 2017 attack and a guard’s stabbing last year.
Pugh spent two weeks in the hospital after the stabbing. The lawsuit also alleges he was punched and kicked by different officers while shackled a year later when he experienced chest pain and sought medical treatment from prison nurses, then was denied medical treatment for resulting injuries.
Pugh was released from the prison in December after serving several years for burglary. Lee, now at Madison Correctional Institution, is serving a 10-year sentence on charges including aggravated robbery.
Their lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Lucasville ended the practice of shackling multiple inmates seated at a table after the attack, according to the prison guards’ union.