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Lawsuit Claims Ohio Prison Guards Laughed, Failed to React as White Supremacist Stabbed Cuffed Black Inmates: ‘Just Let Them Die’

Staffers at an Ohio prison did nothing to prevent a violent attack by a white supremacist against four Black inmates handcuffed to a table, a new federal lawsuit alleges.

The complaint, filed in the Southern District of Ohio earlier this month, accuses two corrections officers identified only by their last names, Faye and Dalton, of laughing while the four men were viciously stabbed during the June 2017 attack, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Prison Inmates Attacked

In this screenshot, taken from a Southern Ohio Correction Facility security camera video four inmates, handcuffed to a table, are attacked by a fellow prisoner who slipped his handcuffs and brandished a knife. (Southern Ohio Correction Facility via AP)

The bloody incident was captured on security video at Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville and seen by millions across the country, sparking outrage.

Lawyers filed the suit on behalf of two of the victims, Shamieke Pugh and Maurice Lee, and are seeking  $75,000 in damages for a slew of civil rights violations, as well as for “cruel and unusual punishment” suffered by the men due to the guards’ inaction.

In the lawsuit, lawyers claim Pugh, Lee and two other Black inmates were strip-searched prior to being let out of their cells for recreational time. They were then handcuffed to a table.

The guards failed to strip-search Greg Reinke, whom the suit identifies as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white nationalist group, before handcuffing him to an adjacent table, however. The lawsuit goes on to allege that the guards “gave Reinke a key” or “knew or should have known that Reinke” had a device to remove his handcuffs.

Reinke, who was already serving a life sentence for a 2004 murder, used an 8-inch blade in the attack and had a 12-inch blade stashed in his sock. As the bloody incident unfolded, the guards Faye and Dalton, stood behind a locked door and “laughed as Mr. Pugh, Mr. Lee and the other inmates were stabbed,” the complaint states.

Two of the inmates sustained only minor injuries while Lee, 27, suffered at least two stab wounds in the attack. Pugh said he was stabbed at least 10 times, and suffered heavy bleeding. One of the victims managed to escape his handcuffs and tackled Reinke to the ground. Corrections officers responded by pepper-spraying the victim — not Reinke.

The suit claims the guards and an unnamed sergeant didn’t immediately render aid to the four victims, and 10 minutes had passed before a nurse arrived.

“We should just let them die,” one of the guards  reportedly said. It’s unclear which of the officers made the remark.

The complaint also alleges that unidentified guards later assaulted Pugh, 29, when he sought medical attention for high blood pressure and chest pains after the stabbing.

“I did a crime, and I did my time, but the guards got away scot-free after almost killing me,” Pugh said. “That ain’t right.”

Reinke, who has a history of carrying knives and had stabbed or tried to stab fellow inmates on two prior occasions, pleaded guilty to the 2017 attack and was sentenced to 54 years, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. He denied that the officers had arranged the attack but said they condoned it.

Reinke was then hit with an additional 32 years behind bars after he and another inmate stabbed a corrections officer about eight months later. According to the Associated Press, he’s now on a hunger strike because of alleged mistreatment by prison staff.

In addition to Faye and Dalton, the lawsuit also names prison warden Ronald Erdos, unidentified nurses, a health care provider and several other corrections officer as defendants, arguing that the staff was well aware of Reinke’s violent tendencies, but did nothing to prevent  it.

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