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Recent Inmate Abuse Claims In Boulder County Jail

By on Feb 26, 2013 in Blog, Boulder Colorado Law Advice Blogs | 0 comments

Boulder County Jail Inmate Abuse

In 2012, there were two relatively well known claims about inmate abuse in the Boulder County Jail system, each leading to individual lawsuits. The more recent claim came from Joshua Johnson, while the other is from a Robert Kirkland. Each had broken bones, bruises, and a terrifying story to tell of their time spent in the jail.

Joshua Johnson’s story began when he was arrested after being pulled over for a broken headlight. The arrest came from violating an alcohol-related condition of a restraining order that Joshua mentioned had been lifted. However, the arresting officer could find no evidence that the restraining order had been lifted and subsequently took him to jail. Upon hearing that he was going to be arrested, Joshua became irate, and was worried over his young daughter who was waiting on him to pick her up.

In the Boulder Country Jail, Joshua admits that he was upset and perhaps a little agitated. While police officials paint a different picture, that of Joshua being out of control, violent, and a threat to both himself and jail personnel. As such, jail personnel decided to move Joshua from his cell and into a restraining chair that is located in the disciplinary day area.

Meeting the Restraining Chair

Upon seeing the chair, and their intention to strap him into it, Joshua became more agitated, and this is where the story takes a turn, where those that weren’t present have to listen to different sides of the same story and decide on which is true. Since Joshua was agitated, and didn’t want to be strapped into a chair, he resisted. Once resistance is met by an officer, they use force in an equal or excessive nature to accomplish the task at hand. This does make sense, because if you don’t use at least the same amount of effort if not more, there is no way to force another person to comply.

But after refusing to be put into the chair, a stream of various assaults fell upon Joshua with the intention to make him comply, and allow the officers to restrain him in the chair. Now before we get into what the officers did, it should be known that this force, by police, is considered “pain compliance”, which as the name implies, makes a person comply through causing pain.

Pain Compliance Techniques

The pain compliance techniques used against Joshua involved repeated knees to the mid-section of his body forcing him to bend over so they can make him sit, straight punches to the chest for the same purpose, a mandibular handle pressure point technique which involves applying a knuckle between the jaw and the ear, and a infra-orbital pressure point control hold which involves folding the top lip back and applying your palm to the lip forcing pressure on the nose.

This last technique is what caused Joshua’s nose to be broken, and after all of this, Joshua did finally comply. He was then strapped into the chair and had a hood thrown over his head. The hood being needed to ensure Joshua did not try and spit at the officers.

Joshua claims he passed out, and when he came to with the hood over himself he was terrified. After being released from the chair, he was escorted back to his cell. This is when Joshua realized that his nose was broken; he was bloodied, and had urinated on himself amidst the fray. It was also at this point Joshua felt that the force used against him was excessive by all means.

Another Case of Excessive Force

A similar story comes from Robert Kirkland, who filed a lawsuit alleging that deputies had abused him, and used excessive force to make him comply as well after being arrested for disorderly conduct. His resulting injuries were a fractured leg which he received from being tossed onto a bunk, a fractured big toe on his right foot, and a dislocated left hip and elbow.

He claims that to this day he still has no feeling in two of his left fingers, and this was both due to the abuse and neglect of the officers on duty. After being roughed up, Kirkland claims he was denied medical treatment for more than a week and was only admitted to the hospital after he took a razor to his own arm so that they were forced to take him to see a doctor.

Tough Love or Excessive Force

Now both of these tales are sad, and you have to have sympathy for people who are in essence being ganged up on. It is police protocol to have at least three officers, if not more, help when an inmate is acting unruly. This makes sense as when a person becomes agitated, quite a few people are needed in order to properly secure and restrain that person.

If it is indeed necessary to strap someone down into a chair, so that they can pose no threat to either themselves or anyone else, chances are you are going to need a few helping hands to accomplish that. Every physical action taken by police officers, even the straight punches to the midsection, are trained to them for the purpose of making an inmate comply in the least harmful way possible. The whole idea of pain compliance is set so if someone is acting out, and could potentially cause harm, everything is done to ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s just an odd result of that, is the inmates are often hurt in the process of trying to keep them from hurting themselves.

Two Sides To Every Tale

They say there are two sides to every story, which is true, but just because there are two different sides of the story doesn’t make either account of it accurate. Stories will always be told in a way which puts the person telling the story in a better light. It is also a problem that in jails, mostly all you have to go off of are the accounts told by the inmates, and the officers. The inmates being the criminals will always have their stories heard with skepticism. This leaves the officers rendition to be the one that is believed and accepted. However, due to the recent lawsuits, the Boulder County Jail will be adding cameras to certain rooms so that if future incidents such as these arise, it doesn’t come down to he said, she said, it will be all caught on tape.

It is certainly hard to imagine an officer’s job being easy, especially when so much hate is directed toward them in the event of someone being arrested. Just like anyone else, they have a job to do, and we should respect the fact that theirs is both difficult and dangerous. Officers put their lives on the line daily for the safety and protection of others, and for that you have my, and most others, gratitude and respect. However, with power comes corruption, and when you hear tales such as these, it’s difficult to imagine that everything was done to protect the inmate when all is said and done, the officers walk out on their own two feet, while the inmate is left with a multitude of broken bones.

It’s also questionable as to why any bones would need to be broken when you have 3-5 officers falling upon a single inmate. I’m sure in the midst of the scuffle things become intense, but it is at least 3 vs. 1 at any time, and punching, kneeing, and anything that results in a broken leg or fractured hip most definitely sounds excessive. The bones in your legs and especially your hip area are extremely resilient, and for them to give way means a lot of pressure and force were applied.

Emotional Distress

In the end, the police have to do their job, but in both of these stories, it sounds as though both Joshua and Robert were terrorized. Joshua was later found not guilty leaving the whole incident a nightmare that could have been avoided, while Robert claims is arrest was over something petty. Either way, both are left with the scars and emotional distress that accompany being beaten. One statement that left a strong impression was from Robert who had been in the military, and he mentioned that he knows what torture entails, and what the police did to him was not far off from that.

In the end, if these stories interest you, you should look into them and generate an opinion of your own. Perhaps Robert Kirkland and Joshua Johnson were overly difficult to deal with, and were truly threatening to themselves and others around them. Or perhaps the officers on duty were nothing more than sadistic brutes that deserve to have their badges stricken from them and tossed into jail themselves.

For those that have served their time for their crimes, Expunging Criminal Records should be a major concern. Make sure your name is cleared if your time has been served! At The Clark Law Firm, we understand that the law can at times be a tricky course to navigate. Which is why if you are need of a Boulder DUI AttorneyCriminal Defense Attorney, or a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney you should be sure to contact the Boulder Law Office of Phil Clark today to ensure you are properly represented.

Phil Clark is a Criminal Defense Attorney for The Clark Law Firm in Boulder, CO. His experience as a senior prosecutor gives him a strong advantage for aggressive criminal defense and those in need of a Boulder DUI attorney. Contact us today for a FREE Consultation.

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