Inmate says he was suicidal, sues guards who gave him a razor


A federal judge has ordered to trial a lawsuit by a state prison inmate who alleges that corrections officers took him to the shower and gave him a razor after he had threatened suicide. The inmate claims one corrections officer said to the other, “Do you think I want him around the next 30 years?”

The inmate, Kyle Lee Payment, cut himself with the blade and received eight stitches, according to court documents.

Payment is representing himself and claims in the handwritten complaint that the officers violated his rights by failing to “protect himself from himself.” The two corrections officers are named as defendants in the suit.

The prison alleges Payment is a perpetually violent and troublesome inmate who has been housed at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center since first incarcerated in 2004 for assault. A motion by prison officials to dismiss the claim states that, almost since his arrival, he has been held in the Intensive Management Unit, where inmates are locked down most of the time because of unruly or violent behavior.

According to prison officials, Payment’s original prison sentence has grown after his being repeatedly convicted of assaulting corrections officers. At the time of the incident, he was facing a new charge of custodial assault with a 30-year sentence.

On Feb. 20, 2013, corrections officers subdued another unruly inmate using pepper spray, and Payment and the other inmates in the unit were locked down, according to court documents. At the same time, Payment reportedly pressed the call-button in his cell and announced he was suicidal and needed help.

Prison officials say Payment has a long history of declaring false medical emergencies and believe he was taking advantage of a “chaotic situation to create a scene because he was upset” over losing his recreation time.

“This was no suicide attempt,” prison officials said in court documents.

Two corrections officers were sent to his cell, and according to Payment asked if he wanted his shower. They then escorted him to the shower and gave him a “kit,” which included soap, a tower and a safety razor.

The razor was included, according to prison officials, “due to a miscommunication among staff.” According to the documents, prison policy restricts inmates considered violent or suicidal from having razors or other items they might use to hurt themselves or others.

Payment claims one of the guards whispered to the other, “What, do you think I want him around for the next 30 years?”

He claims the other guard, on giving him the razor, told him, “You are going to need this, that is if you are really serious.”

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton dismissed several defendants, including the secretary of the state Department of Corrections and the superintendent from Clallam Bay, from the lawsuit. He allowed claims against the corrections officers to stand. In his ruling, he noted that at least one of the corrections officers knew of the suicide threat and that, if Payment’s claims are true, “decided to issue the razor to him despite this knowledge.”

Mike Carter: mcarter@seattletimes.com or 206-464-3706

 

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