Lee Correctional inmate files lawsuit after surviving deadly prison riot

Reakwon Watson (Source: SCDC)

An inmate injured in the Lee Correctional prison riot filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

The lawsuit, filed by Reakwon Watson on Monday, outlines the injuries he sustained, including multiple stab wounds, during the deadly riot on April 15:"On April 15, 2018, at approximately 7:00 pm, the Plaintiff was in sally-port of the F-3 Unit. The Plaintiff is informed and believes that at this time there was only one (1) correctional officer covering both wings of the F-3 Unit and that she was mainly on the B-wing. Additionally, the Plaintiff is informed and believes that all interior doors (to include all cell doors and those doors leading in and out of each wing) were unlocked and open. This allowed inmates to improperly move from one wing to the next unsupervised. The Plaintiff was ambushed in the sally-port by about 10 or 15 inmates. As a direct result of this attack, the Plaintiff was stabbed at least eight (8) times at different locations on his person (to include his head, arms, hands and back). Additionally, because there was no correctional staff present, the Plaintiff had no protection or means to seek immediate medical care for his injuries."

- Reakwon Watson vs South Carolina Department of CorrectionsThe lawsuit states that Watson bled out and suffered for hours before receiving medical treatment:"The Plaintiff called out to correctional staff begging for assistance, but none was immediately given. Instead the Plaintiff was forced to bleed and suffer for several hours before correctional staff finally came onto the wing and the Plaintiff was moved to medical."

- Reakwon Watson vs South Carolina Department of CorrectionsAccording to the lawsuit, the institution had a "long history of overcrowding" and "failed to provide adequate security and supervision" for the inmates housed there.

The lawsuit states that Watson was in the F-3 unit, which housed the most violent offenders, and required at least one correctional officer per wing, 24 hours a day, but prior to and during the date of the incident, there was only one officer working both wings of the unit."Additionally, there were many times when there were no correctional officers working either wing of the F-3 Unit."Additionally, the lawsuit states that the institution violated SCDC policies and procedures by leaving sally-port, cell doors and unit doors unlocked, prior to and on the day of the riot. According to the lawsuit, the doors are supposed to remain locked at all times, other than during controlled movements.

The lawsuit also alleges that staff members were aware of inmates with weapons or access to weapons, including shanks, prior to the riot on April 15. According to SCDC, 22 inmates were injured and 7 died from severe blood loss, resulting from "multiple sharp-force injuries."

The lawsuit states that Watson was treated for multiple stab wounds to his head, arms, hands and back, and he continues to suffer from pain, paranoia, and nightmares. Watson is represented by attorney, Robert Jones in Greenville, SC.

Watson is serving an 8-year sentence for assault and battery and attempted armed robbery. His projected release date is in 2020.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections said it is their policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Here is the full lawsuit:

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