US Marijuana Party

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Prison officers blocked medical help for inmate

By Greg Garland
Sun Staff

Correctional officers at a Western Maryland prison kept medical personnel from attending to inmate Ifeanyi A. Iko as he lay motionless and apparently unconscious after a violent encounter with prison staff last year, according to legal papers filed in federal court by a lawyer for his family.

"Indeed, it was stated that as long as [Iko] was breathing, no one was going into the cell," attorney Gary C. Adler wrote in an amended complaint that was filed this week.

The Nigerian immigrant refused to leave the cell voluntarily, and officers used three cans of pepper spray in their attempts to subdue him and get him into restraints.

Iko was placed on his stomach on the cell floor, and several officers kneeled on him to pin him down as an officer spent five minutes trying to find plastic "flex cuffs" to replace the metal handcuffs, the suit says.

"After the flex cuffs were put in place, [Iko] was left laying on the floor on his stomach, handcuffed behind the back and with the mask still around his face," the complaint states.

"He did not move from that position on the floor from the time he was placed in the special observation housing unit cell (approximately 3 p.m.) until his body was discovered cold and without a pulse by correctional officers at approximately 4:30 p.m."

Iko originally was sent to prison to serve a three-year sentence for a drug charge but received an additional 20 years for assaulting a correctional officer in 1992 in an Eastern Shore prison.


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