[Pnews] Letter from Herman Bell’s attorney to Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci New York State Department of Corrections

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 12 14:26:55 EDT 2017


*Letter from Herman Bell’s attorney to Acting Commissioner Anthony J. 
Annucci New York State Department of Corrections****
**
ROBERT J. BOYLE**
Attorney At Law*

September 12, 2017

Anthony Annucci
Commissioner
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
State Campus
Albany, N.Y. 12226

Dear Commissioner Annucci:

I am the attorney for Herman Bell, age 69, an inmate now at Five Points 
Correctional Facility. I am working with Prisoners Legal Services on 
this particular matter.

As I believe you are aware, on or about September 5, 2017, there was a 
fight between inmates in the Great Meadow Correctional Facility yard. 
All parties acknowledge that Mr. Bell was not involved as he was on the 
telephone with his wife. Officers responded and ordered the yard closed. 
Mr. Bell ended the telephone call and, as directed, lined up to return 
to the housing units. As other inmates entered through one door, a 
guard, identified as C.O. J. Saunders approached Mr. Bell, removed him 
from the line and escorted him to another door that leads to a corridor 
between two messhalls. Mr. Bell was the only inmate escorted in this 
manner.. Once inside, now out of the view of other inmates and any 
cameras, another officer joined the escort. After proceeding some 
distance, the first officer smacked Mr. Bell. He then pushed Mr. Bell 
against a wall, causing him to fall to the ground. This officer then 
beat Mr. Bell about his head and body. Within minutes other officers 
arrived and joined in the beating. Among other acts, officers raised Mr. 
Bell’s head and slammed it against the concrete floor on at least three 
occasions. There were numerous blows to Mr. Bell’s face. At one point, 
an officer or officers raised Mr. Bell off the floor partially and kneed 
him in the chest and stomach. Mace was sprayed in Mr. Bell’s face, 
including his eyes, nose and mouth. Finally, Mr. Bell was raised off the 
floor and taken to the prison infirmary.

A x-ray confirmed broken ribs. In addition to overall pain and bruising, 
Mr. Bell’s left eye is injured resulting in a loss of vision. He is 
suffering from headaches. Instead of taking him to an outside hospital, 
your staff moved him to Five Points Correctional Facility where he was 
served with a disciplinary ticket and placed in SHU. On Friday September 
8, I telephoned Prison Health Services. I informed them that Mr. Bell 
had not received blood pressure medication and prescribed eye drops. I 
was assured they would be provided. I learned today that the medication 
was not provided until Sunday September 10. This is irresponsible and 
dangerous.

Although Mr. Bell likely suffered a concussion, there has been no CT 
scan of his head to rule out a subdural hematoma or other head injury. 
Neurologists have informed me that this is standard procedure for even 
much less serious head trauma. There is also the risk of stroke, 
especially in someone of Mr. Bell’s age. Mr. Bell has not seen an 
ophthalmologist to evaluate his eyes.

These failures when considered individually or collectively, constitute 
deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in violation of the 
Eighth Amendment. /Estelle v. Gamble/, 429 U.S. 97 (1977).

As you know, Mr. Bell is just shy of 70 years old. He has not had a 
disciplinary infraction in over 20 years. The day following the beating, 
Mr. Bell had been scheduled to commence a family reunion visit, his 
first in 2+ years. Moreover, witnesses confirm that CO Saunders led Mr. 
Bell alone, into an area where he was under the view of staff and not 
inmates. C.O. Saunders maintains in the disciplinary ticket that Mr. 
Bell refused to end the telephone call with this wife. Yet the tape of 
that call, obtained by the IG’s office, shows that Mr. Bell terminated 
it immediately.

At the same time, it appears that guards at Great Meadow targeted Mr. 
Bell. Visitors to Mr. Bell – including myself – have heard staff 
processing visitors and in the visiting room refer to Mr. Bell as a “cop 
killer” or “terrorist”. This unprofessional – and juvenile – behavior by 
your employees has no place in the prison system. Great Meadow itself is 
notorious for beatings by guards, many racially motivated. In the two 
weeks prior to the beating, Mr. Bell’s cell was searched. No contraband 
was found but personal property damaged and trashed.

The instant incident was not only a racist attack. It was elder abuse. 
Moreover, there is certainly probable cause to believe these guards 
committed assault in the first degree, P.L. §120.04 and/or gang assault 
in the first degree, P.L § 120.07. The law applies to everyone. When 
prison guards commit violent crimes, they should be prosecuted like 
anyone else.

I am aware that those who have contacted DOCCS have been told that the 
“investigation” must run its course. That may be true. However, while 
that “investigation” runs its course, it is Mr. Bell who is in the SHU, 
suffering from headaches and other pain and denied adequate medical 
treatment.

Consistent with your legal obligation to insure the safety and 
well-being of inmates within the Department, the following should take 
place:

1. Mr. Bell should immediately be removed to an outside hospital and 
seen by a neurologist and ophthalmologist;

2. The disciplinary infraction should be quashed and, upon Mr. Bell’s 
release from a hospital, he should be placed in general population not 
at Great Meadow Correctional Facility;

3. C.O. Saunders and the guards responsible for this attack should be 
immediately suspended from duty, without pay;

4. This matter should be referred to the appropriate agency for criminal 
prosecution of the guards involved.

I am available to discuss this matter at your earliest convenience.

Very truly yours,

ROBERT J. BOYLE

_______________________________________

Don't forget to write

Herman Bell 79C0262
Five Points CF
6600 State Route 96
Caller Box 119
Romulus, N.Y. 14541

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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