Abuse alleged in lawsuit against regional jail
Amelia Holliday — Staff Reporter
HAZARD—Nearly three months after the indictments of two former deputy jailers in the beating death of a jail inmate, a former inmate of the jail has stepped forward with claims of being brutally beaten by jail staff.
Larry Trent was found dead in his cell on July 9 while being held at the Kentucky River Regional Jail (KRRJ) in Hazard. Jail guards Damon Hickman and William Howell were indicted in August on one count each first-degree manslaughter, a class B Felony, after coroner reports were released citing the cause of Trent’s death as the result of a “jail beating.”
Now, Gary Hill, of Jeff, who was an inmate at the KRRJ in November 2012, has alleged another case of jail abuse, according to a lawsuit filed by Hill on Nov. 6 of this year in which Hickman, KRRJ Director Tim Kilburn, the KRRJ Authority, the Kentucky Association of Counties, and Underwriters Safety and Claims, Inc. are named as defendants.
According to the suit, Hickman entered Hill’s cell on or about Nov. 16, 2012, and struck and kicked him in the head several times. Hickman then allegedly restrained Hill to a chair while he continued to “brutally beat him.”
Hill filed a grievance form with the KRRJ, according to the suit, of which Kilburn was aware; however, Hickman was allegedly not punished.
According to the grievance, which was filed Nov. 21, 2012, Hill had asked Hickman for a phone call but was told he had signed the right to one away once he was booked. After asking for the call, Hill said he turned on the water in his cell and it sprayed all over the floor, apparently prompting the confrontation with Hickman and another unnamed guard.
Hill wrote that Hickman “struck me in the face, then kicked me in the head several times.”
Hill said Hickman and the unnamed guard then allegedly strapped Hill into a restraining chair and “put their badges in my face and repeatedly told me they were the law … and could do what they wanted to.”
“They said that they would swear that I struck Damon (Hickman) in the face and stomach, which I did not do,” Hill wrote.
WYMT News reported earlier this year, in Kilburn’s first interview with the media since July, that Kilburn said Hickman had been “incident free since 2006.”
Kilburn could not be reached for comment before press time on Tuesday.
Attorney David A. Johnson, who is representing Hill, said Hill was transported from the KRRJ shortly after the incident to a rehabilitation facility in Indiana for alcohol abuse. However, instead of being checked into the facility, Hill had to be taken to the emergency room due to injuries he had which had been left untreated.
Johnson added that Hill’s number one priority is to make sure his story is told in court.
“Mr. Hill just told us to have his day in court, get his case to a jury,” Johnson said. “He believes that the only way that he feels like justice is served is to tell what happened to him in the Perry County jail to a jury.”
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