A “sadistic” prison guard at Auburn Correctional Facility in upstate New York has triggered yet another lawsuit related to his alleged abuse of inmates. Lt. Troy Mitchell, who has worked as a correctional officer for almost two decades, allegedly waterboarded and beat inmate Matthew Raymond so severely that he now needs a permanent catheter.
Raymond, who has filed previous lawsuits related to the beating, has filed a new lawsuit against the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision claiming that the agency failed to properly supervise Mitchell and protect inmates from him.
Raymond was convicted on a burglary charge in Chautauqua County in 2015, and he was sentenced to four to eight years at Auburn Correctional. The 29-year-old had an existing traumatic brain injury and related seizure disorder before he was sentenced to prison.
In September 2016, Raymond had a seizure in his cell and was taken to the hospital. Raymond was discharged quickly (arguably before receiving adequate medical attention), and during the trip back to Auburn Correctional he had another seizure. Rather than taking him back to the hospital, officers continued on to the prison, where Raymond was taken to the medical unit.
There, he was greeted by Mitchell and five other guards, who assaulted him while he was shackled and defenseless. According to the lawsuit, the horrific beating included waterboarding, punches to Raymond’s neck, face and chest and repeated strikes to his groin with a baton. The lawsuit alleges that Mitchell continued the torture even when Raymond had a third seizure and another officer intercepted.
Afterward, Raymond got no medical care, even though he told guards there was blood in his urine. He was charged with assaulting staff and put in solitary confinement for three weeks. It wasn’t until four months later when Raymond was unable to urinate and he fainted from the buildup of toxins in his system, that he was taken to SUNY Upstate Hospital in Syracuse.
Doctors there reported that he suffered blunt-force trauma to his genitals, which caused permanent damage.
Raymond’s recent lawsuit alleges that the Department of Corrections intentionally bungled the investigation that followed the attack, calling it a “sham inquiry.” Raymond said investigators didn’t contact him until months later and didn’t talk to other witnesses at all.
The Office of Special Investigation declined to look into the case further, and the office didn’t reopen it until another inmate accused Mitchell of similar behavior. Only then, in August 2017, was Mitchell suspended without pay. His current employment status is unknown.
Raymond is by no means the first inmate to accuse Auburn correctional officers of abuse. The Department of Justice initiated an investigative probe into Auburn Correctional way back in 2005. The DOJ was looking into allegations of excessive force, but the investigation was closed two years later because the statute of limitations expired.
At the same time as the DOJ investigation, two other Auburn inmates filed lawsuits alleging abuse at the hands of Mitchell and other officers. Richie Thomas said officers assaulted him in a utility room in 2002. Dino Caroselli claimed that officers broke his nose, tooth, ankle, and hands during an assault in the same year.
Thomas and Caroselli received $19,800 and $70,000 settlements, respectively, but the officers named in the lawsuits—including Mitchell—kept their jobs. The NYS Department of Corrections justified the lack of disciplinary action by saying that its powers are limited under the current correctional officers’ union contract.
In August 2017, just one month before Raymond’s assault, Mitchell allegedly choked inmate Waddell Smith and sprayed an entire can of Mace into his face at close range. The assault is detailed in another lawsuit, filed by Waddell earlier this year.
Smith said the assault happened while officers were searching his medical isolation cell for contraband. For no apparent reason, Mitchell began choking him and held him down while other officers pummeled him. Smith didn’t receive medical attention for four days, and he still suffers vision impairment in his left eye from the beating.
Mitchell was also implicated in a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007. Penny Collins, who worked with Mitchell as a correctional officer, accused him and other officers of verbally abusing and bullying her.
Her claim detailed the twisted behavior that Mitchell displayed at work. She said Mitchell liked to talk about the size of inmates’ penises; he told his coworkers that he once told his own mother that she had “nice tits”; and he told Collins that her wedding ring looked like the one he gave his wife, which “got lost in his ass.”
In an interview with the Daily News, Collins said Mitchell was “one of the sickest people [she] had ever met in [her] entire life.”
Collins warned the Department of Corrections about Mitchell’s behavior in a November 2006 letter, which she sent just after Mitchell had been promoted to lieutenant. The letter said she feared for both inmates and his coworkers. Although an investigator met with her once, the agency didn’t take any further action. Had the DOC taken her seriously, it could have prevented the horrific abuse of Raymond, Thomas, Caroselli, and Smith.
Collins filed a lawsuit a year later and received a $787,837 judgment against the NYS Department of Corrections in 2012. She also received $150,000 in back pay. Collins quit her job and moved to Tennessee, partially to get as far away as possible from Mitchell and her other abusive co-workers.
In total, New York State has paid out $877,637 to resolve legal claims involving Mitchell. That the state has continued to employ him for years, after numerous abuse allegations, is truly astounding.
Inmates have the right not to be abused. If you or a loved one has suffered mistreatment in jail or prison, you have legal options and may be entitled to compensation. CALL US at 866.836.4684 or Connect Online to learn how we can help you file a federal civil rights lawsuit.