NJ man says he was handcuffed and beaten by corrections officers
A South Jersey man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against several Cumberland County corrections officers, saying he was handcuffed and then badly beaten while in custody.
Eddie Waters filed the suit last Thursday in U.S. District Court in Camden. The lawsuit named former corrections officer Jarrell Saez as a defendant, along with Sergeant Vohland, Warden Richard Smith, and several unnamed officers and medical personnel.
Waters said he was being processed for a trespassing charge at Cumberland County Jail on the evening of August 1, 2017. He said he was placed in a holding cell with two other individuals for about 45 minutes. Waters said he then exchanged words with Officer Saez, who Waters said handcuffed him and removed the other two people from the cell.
Waters said Saez came back into the cell and started physically beating him, including stomping and kicking his head repeatedly. Waters said other officers also joined in and beat him while Waters said Sgt. Vohland watched and did nothing to stop it.
Though he suffered head injuries, concussions, bruises and debilitating headaches, Waters said he was denied immediate medical attention.
According to the lawsuit, the next day, a disciplinary charge on Waters was reported as a pretext for the beating, claiming that Waters was “refusing to obey orders."
Waters said when he was released from the jail on Aug. 4, 2017, his Inmate Release Authorization Form incorrectly said that he had received medical treatment and that he had no need for medications.
Waters and his lawyers said a significant portion of the incident was captured on video, which is required by law to be preserved.
The legal team for Waters includes attorney Conrad Benedetto, who has a law office in Vorhees.
In a written statement, Benedetto said: "The allegations that a number of correctional officers ganged up and beat a defenseless inmate are bad enough. But it is unconscionable that after they allegedly beat Mr. Waters, they then allegedly refused to provide him with any medical treatment for the serious injuries he claims he received at the hands of those officers."
As reported by Press of Atlantic City, Cumberland County's attorney, Theodore Baker, said the officers' use of force was justified.
“From what I have seen, inmate Waters disobeyed a direct order to be handcuffed and initiated a confrontation with at least one officer, and he was issued disciplinary charges by the Department of Corrections," Baker was quoted as saying.
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