A New Jersey man incapacitated by a brutal beating at the Essex County Correctional Facility has filed a lawsuit alleging the corrections officers put him in harm’s way and did not protect him.
Jayshawn Boyd, 22, who is schizophrenic, was placed in a gang unit in September after missing a hearing for incidents with his family at home.
Surveillance video posted on social media shows multiple inmates kicking Boyd and stomping his head and then leaving him on the ground unconscious. They each returned later and threw a microwave oven, multi-gallon beverage dispenser, water cooler, trash can and industrial mop bucket on his motionless body.
Boyd was in a coma for two months. He is paralyzed from the waist down and still recovering from severe brain injury, according to a lawsuit obtained by the Atlanta Black Star.
“The likelihood that he will ever return to ordinarily functioning is virtually non-existent,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Boyd has been deemed incapable of managing his own affairs.”
While seven men were ambushing Boyd, the officer in charge of the unit ran in the other direction. The lawsuit reportedly says Jeremy Alvarado ran down the hallway and away from the attack instead of helping Boyd. The other incarcerated men were later charged with assault.
Boyd is reportedly suing Essex County, jail guards, officials and health workers. He alleges they subjected him to unsafe conditions, the officers failed to stop the attack, and that he received inadequate medical care.
After being arrested for altercations with his mother and brother in 2020, Boyd was transferred from the jail to a psychiatric hospital and later released.
Jail health personnel noted in Boyd’s medical records that he had “symptoms of psychosis” and “aggressive tendencies” and should be observed closely due to his mental health issues, the lawsuit alleges. Boyd had to be evaluated to see if he was competent to stand trial. He told evaluators he had a speaker talking to him in his head 24/7.
He was scheduled to plead guilty to criminal mischief and unlawfully possessing a knife but missed his July court date. He turned himself in in September and was placed in the housing unit with known members of the street gang, the Bloods.
The lawsuit says when Boyd returned to the jail on Sept. 23, a health worker allegedly wrote he had no history of violent behavior and had never been treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The complaint shows Boyd was transported to the hospital over an hour after the assault.
“He’s just one example, Mr. Boyd, of being failed by the pre-trial penal system,” Boyd’s lawyer Brooke Barnett said.
At least three male and one female voice identified the inmates and items they threw in the background of the video capturing the incident. The woman laughed a few times. Most of the time, she responded with gasps.
“Oh my, God!” the woman said.
“Did he die yet?” she asked at another point.
“Oh, he’s dead,” a man replied.
“He’s brain dead,” another man said. “He’s just a guy on a ventilator, right.”
Boyd’s attorney said jail and county officials are aware of longstanding, systemic failures in the county jail. They allege that there is a pattern of inmates’ mental health and other health care concerns going unmet, and there are staffing shortages and training, supervising and disciplinary insufficiencies.
The Essex County Correctional Facility has been the subject of news reports, protest, other litigation and a state investigation.
“ECCF is perpetually underfunded and understaffed, with an inmate-to-guard ratio that is far above New Jersey’s Constitutional standards,” the lawsuit says. “This perpetual underfunding and understaffing has created a powder keg that seems to erupt almost daily, with inmates dying violent and preventable deaths every year.”
According to the lawsuit, Alvarado had not completed corrections academy training before he was assigned to oversee the unit designated for gang members. The warden and associate warden sent an internal message praising Alvarado for the way he handled the attack.
The county has taken steps to review the facility’s operations since Boyd’s attack.
Another inmate was stabbed to death on Dec. 3. The county announced on Dec. 6 that it had hired an independent consulting firm to conduct an assessment “in response to recent incidents involving inmate altercations.”
The consulting firm “will review security, staffing roles and responsibilities of all employees from the time inmates enter the facility at intake to the time they are released,” the press release announcing the initiative said. The firm will also check to see if jail staff is following policies.
“We need a fresh set of eyes to review our policies and standards,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., said.
However, Boyd’s attorneys said the firm is led by the county’s former health and public safety director, who held other positions in the county in “policing, prosecution and for corrections.”