Bound and Gassed: My Reward for Exposing Abuses and Killings of Texas Prisoners

PrisonTacticalTeam2525754069On December 21, 2016 I was set up for both assault and to have almost all of my personal property permanently taken upon threats to do so by several ranking guards at the Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas where I am confined.

The Why

At around eleven o’clock a.m. on Dec. 21st, I was confronted by Captain Patricia Flowers and lieutenant Crystal Turner and told to allow myself to be handcuffed to be removed from my solitary confinement cell. Several weeks prior to this, I had a run-in with Flowers while she was making rounds in my cell block along with others, including the Major Leeroy Cano.

Another prisoner asked me if she was the new segregation unit captain; I told him “yes” and she was taking the place of the previous captain Donald Dean, who was apparently under investigation for an incident involving another guard. I told him her full name. At that time Flowers was talking to another prisoner in a cell across from me. When I said this she turned to me and stated, “You need to shut the fuck up!” I replied in a humored tone that her “potty mouth isn’t professional.’’ She responded that she knew who I was, and I have a habit of putting my own mouth in things that I “have no business; you call it ‘exposing us’ huh?” She then stated if I didn’t learn to stop running my mouth, “I’ll take all your shit!” I asked for what reason she could justify taking my belongings. She answered, “I don’t have to have a reason.” I then addressed Major Cano about her threat as he walked by and he only smiled at me and kept going.

When I was then confronted by her on Dec. 21st, she had me taken to a holding cell by a guard Andrew Leonard. While I was in the cell, at separate times Flowers and Turner came past me and I asked what was going on. Both stated they were taking all my belongings because I don’t know how to “mind [my] own business.” Again I asked. Flowers how she could justify taking my things when most of it is legal. She replied that it was “improperly stored,” and called back to Turner on her radio (Turner was then in my cell having all my property packed up), and told her to leave some of the legal property in the cell. This obviously to deflect any future complaints by me that they’d taken my legal materials needed to pursue pending cases.

I told her and Leonard (who also came by), that my property was separated and sitting out of the cell storage areas under instructions of law library staff who were supposed to come and perform an inventory and measurements of all my legal and other property per policy, under what’s called a ‘‘subsequent legal storage review,” which is a procedure done every six months for prisoners with pending court cases during which s/he must separate all of her/his property so staff can determine what specific materials relate to what pending cases. The property is then measured to determine what quantity s/he retains for each case and this is recorded. The remaining non-legal property is also sorted so it can be looked over to ensure it has the prisoners’ name and prisoner number on it and a measure is taken of what s/he’d like to retain that doesn’t exceed a space of 2 feet by 2 feet cubed.[1]

Furthermore, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice [sic!] (TDCJ) prisoner orientation handbook specifically states that the only time that property must be stored away in the cell is when the prisoner voluntarily leaves her/his living area, otherwise s/he is free to have it out of the storage areas to use while inside the cell, to clean living areas, to reorganize it, etc.

So the entire claim that my property was “improperly stored” was bogus and an obvious specious pretext to have it taken under Flowers’ prior threats. In fact while I was in the holding cell both Flowers and Turner further threatened me with physical assault by other guards.

I was then later taken back to the cell, around 12 p.m., and upon entering the cell observed that my belongings were indeed largely missing and what was left were loose papers thrown along the right wall of the cell. I told Leonard I needed to see Flowers and/or Turner because I needed my taken property, which I saw was a lot of my legal materials (including all of my books, and stationery), and other materials. Leonard called a Sergeant Arleen Waak to the cell; both refused to summon Flowers or Turner, whom Waak said already knew what I wanted and didn’t care about my issues, since I knew why they really took my things. Waak also became verbally abusive and threatened me with assault by staff. In anticipation of using force on me she had a guard bring a portable audio-video camera to my cell and record me, at which point I began stating my issues, and that I needed my taken property to, among other things, meet court deadlines.

Instead of addressing my issues Waak had Leonard spray me with a large burst of chemical gas from a large canister as I stood in the locked cell still handcuffed behind my back. I was never threatening nor did I refuse any orders; I only tried to get them to have the ranking staff who had taken my property address the situation. During the entire time the use of force was going on Turner was standing with a nurse Tammy Williams at the opposite end of the cell block so they could both say they hadn’t directly observed the use of force, and thus Turner could do any “investigation” of the incident and there would be no medical witness to the attack. Williams collaborated in doing this, although per TDCJ “use of force” policy a nurse is to be present when gas in used in this manner. She is in fact a defendant in several pending lawsuits involving the killings of prisoners at this Unit which she was involved in (one of whom died as a result of her denied care), and she’s aware that I was instrumental in assisting the attorneys in locating witnesses and evidence that led to those cases being brought. I’m also a witness in one of those cases.[2]

I was left in the gas-contaminated cell with gas-covered linen and bedding, clothing and walls/floor. I asked on camera to be decontaminated (I also had gas on me), to have the cell decontaminated, to receive fresh air, have my eyes flushed and be given a shower. This was all refused. It was days later before I obtained clean sheets (I still have contaminated blankets and mattress) and clothes, during routine clothing and linen exchange. The cell remains contaminated and I have thus been subjected to continual gas contamination and re-contamination. I was unable to sleep for 2 days because of the continual burning and reactivation of the gas on all parts of my body.

Only after I was gassed and the handcuffs were removed did the nurse Williams come to the cell with a gas mask on. I repeated to her all my decontamination requests, which she ignored and left. The denial of decontamination by medical and security staff was illegal in the extreme and violated TDCJ policy on use of chemical agents.[3]

At 1:08 pm I informed another nurse who is also involved in the lawsuits with Williams of my decontamination and medical needs, as she made pill rounds in the cell block. She also refused me any aid although this nurse, Delores Carrizales, was coughing and gagging from the gas coming from my cell as she walked past.

Turner orchestrated much of what took place and admitted to another prisoner who complained as she and the nurse stood at the opposite end of the cell block, that she did this so she could perform any investigations and control the narrative of the incident, and outcome of any “investigation.” She could also collaborate on any disciplinary reports filed against me.

Prior to the assault, Waak had a prisoner working the pod throw away a substantial amount of my property that had been thrown out of the cell by Turner as trash, including my drinking cups, pens, boxers, and other items.

I was able to talk to another guard, Rodolfo Trevino, whom Turner had fill out the inventory and confiscation notice for my taken property. He admitted that Turner’s original intent was to take all my property under Flowers’ orders, but decided to leave some of the legal papers when Flowers called her on the radio and told her to. He admitted not knowing what was legal that they took and what wasn’t and they’d already packed up a lot of documents before Flowers’ call, which they went ahead and confiscated rather than pull it all back out of the bags. He said he was coached in everything he did by Turner, including claiming my things were “improperly stored” as the basis for confiscating them.

Much later another guard signed and confirmed in a written statement that I was left in a gas contaminated cell with “a lot” of gas on the cell surfaces and gas all over the linen, mattress, etc. This guard also confirmed that their own ranking supervisor admitted that my property should not have been confiscated as “improperly stored” while I was in the cell with it out. This guard did express to me fear of retaliation if I allowed their peers to find out that they made this written admission; however I did send the statement out to a publisher and the attorney representing the lawsuit to which nurse Williams is a defendant, Jesse Quackenbush, of Amarillo, Texas (the guard executed several copies of the statement).

I also found that my typewriter’s frame had been broken, which might “allow” for a future confiscation of it as “altered.”

Numerous other prisoners witnessed the foregoing events and several wrote sworn statements which I also sent out; others wanted to submit witness statements on the abuse of force on me, but Turner and others sarcastically refused to provide them the entitled documents.

I also sent out to various legal and media source portions of the gas-stained sheets and paint from the walls in the cell, showing the bright orange (still active) gas that I was left in the cell with. The base and stain of the gas is so toxic that it doesn’t wash out or off of fabrics or even stain-resistant surfaces, like the cell walls paint. The gas is the color of a #2 pencil.

As one witnessing prisoner, Jason Walker, wrote in a statement he sent out, this taking of my belongings and assault on me is the culmination of months of officials here attempting to frustrate and deter my and others whom I have given the example to writing and otherwise bringing outside attention to the killings and abuses of prisoners in the TDCJ, such as was not occurring before, and these officials were thus previously getting away with. And while I need all possible support, aid and exposure in response to these abuses against me, I am not and won’t be deterred in continuing to shine a much needed light into these dark and corrupt institutions.

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!


[1] To initiate the review process the Access to Courts Supervisor at a TDCJ prison sends the prisoner a packet that contains “Instructions for Subsequent Storage Review.” This document lays out what the prisoner must do in preparation for and during the review process. At part 1(B) of the instructions it states, “prior to the review your legal material shall be separated by cause numbers” (emphasis in original). This plainly requires that the legal materials be set out and separated into files according to each pending case before the review is done, which is exactly what I was told by law library staff to do until they found time to do my review; but that they didn’t know when they would be able to get around to it, so I should remain prepared. The instructions also state, “at the time of the review, your initial storage container shall be configured to [fit within a 2 cubic feet storage container]’’, and if the prisoner does not abide by this s/he may receive a disciplinary report. And following the review, if the property is not kept within this limit disciplinary action may again be brought. So, likewise all non-legal property must also be separated so it may be measured and brought within the review limits. It also states the property must be set out so it can be “visually inspected to ensure your name and number is legible and is placed on the items prior to completion of the review process.’’ So, again all my belongings were out based on the Nov. 10, 2016 instruction document I received and instructions of staff so my review process could be done. And, as said independent of this the TDCJ “Offender Orientation Handbook,” at page 14 states that a prisoner’s property must be “properly stored” when “leaving [their] living area.”

[2] I have been involved in reporting on and assisting attorneys in investigating and obtaining witness and evidentiary source; in relation to prisoners killed at this Unit, which has led to media coverage beyond my own published reports and 3 federal lawsuits by their next of kin. I’ve also reported extensively on many other abuses occurring at this Unit against others. I have generally not focused on my own experiences with abuse of myself. Some of my reports can be read as follows:

etc., etc., etc.

[3] See, Walker v. Bowersox, 526 F.3d 1186, 1189 (2008); Clement v. Gomez, 298 F.3d 898, 904-05 (2002); Benjamin v. Williams, 77 F.3d 756, 764 (1996), etc. Furthermore, prison officials violate the constitution when they act to “deliberately provoke an incident so as to allow” themselves to attack a prisoner “under the guise of maintaining order or defending themselves.” Miller v. Leathers, 913 F.2d 1085, 1088 (1990). This is what Flowers, Turner and Waak acted jointly to do in taking my belongings in blatant violation of their own rules and my rights, then refusing to address the matter at all. The intent on top of taking my things was to provoke a reaction from me that would give the appearance of justifiably using force against me, as occurred.

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