NJ releases prison video from overnight beating of female inmates
Videos taken during one brutal overnight at the state’s only women’s prison this past winter, prompting criminal charges against 10 corrections officers, have been released for the first time.
The Office of the Attorney General released 10 videos on Wednesday evening — half of them taken from hand-held cameras during violent cell extractions on Jan. 11 at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton Township.
Among footage released Wednesday, handheld video of one prisoner’s forced removal shows five officers in full tactical gear line up outside the cell, as an additional sixth, male officer tells the woman inside to put her hands through the door’s slot to be handcuffed.
The inmate says twice “I gotta pee,” to which the same officer shrugs and says “last call” before asking again and then spraying a canister of pepper spray through the door opening.
He calls out the cell number and opens the door as the other five armed officers quickly enter.
The person taking the video remains in the corridor, so it’s difficult at times to see into the scrum of officers around the prisoner, who is pushed and pulled, into the wall at times, as one officer repeatedly yells “stop resisting.”
The woman's coughing can be heard and her hands are up in a way that appears to shield her face, at some points.
One of the officers yells “she’s holding me” and then the struggle appears to turn more violent, as an officer strikes the woman in the face and head multiple times.
The woman gets closer to the ground, at which point one officer then begins punching downward, still yelling “stop resisting.”
“You gonna — punch me in my face like this?” the woman says in between coughs, as the officers pull her to a standing position, before taking her out into the corridor and down to the medical area for a nurse’s brief evaluation.
In another hand held video, a female inmate in a blood-spattered shirt, referred to as “victim 1” by state prosecutors, is sitting on a bench in the medical area.
She asks the room full of five officers in tactical gear for some tissues. No one responds, as she adds “You’ll was just punching on me, I wasn’t even doing nothing.”
In between some cries, she says “Why the face?”
The other videos show more of similar moments as officers in tactical gear quickly enter other women's cells — at least six according to the Associated Press — over a several hour span into early Jan. 12.
By March, eight officers had been charged, as prosecutors detailed one inmate had suffered a broken bone in her eye socket while another had a concussion, stemming from the violent cell extractions.
And in April, the number of officers facing charges stemming from the same overnight had risen to 10.
As the investigation continues, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on June 7 that the state would be permanently closing Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton Township.
The governor referred to an independent report, which detailed the series of problems leading to the violent cell extractions in which multiple inmates were seriously injured in January.
Within a day, it was then announced that Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks was resigning, effective June 18.