DENVER (KDVR) – A former prison inmate is suing three people who worked as guards at the Fremont Correctional Facility in 2019 for tasing him multiple times after he was involved in a fight.
“It’s hard not to be emotional about it. It’s very upsetting,” said Anthony Wright, the former prison inmate who filed the suit.
The lawsuit, filed this month in federal court by attorney Michael Fairhurst, claims officers tased Wright “unnecessarily, sadistically, wantonly, and for the very purpose of causing him harm,” while Wright was recovering from a seizure.
“Instead of being treated humanely as every person should – regardless of where they are or what they might have done in the past – instead, guards callously exacerbated his trauma,” said Fairhurst.
Prior to the Taser incident for which the lawsuit was filed, Wright had been involved in a fight. Guards also used Tasers to break up the inmates, and Taser prongs lodged in the back of Wright’s head.
Wright “began suffering a seizure and convulsing on the ground,” the lawsuit said. “At the time, he was lying flat on his back with his arms raised above him, both of which were involuntarily and spastically shaking in the air.”
The lawsuit accuses the guards of continuing to use a Taser to further subdue Wright as he was recovering.
“Mr. Wright clearly did not pose a threat to anyone. Two correctional officers were already physically restraining Mr. Wright and forcing him to the ground when Defendant (Leslie) Taylor tasered his leg.”
The suit claims Wright was struck with a Taser once more, a few seconds later.
“He was certainly unable to resist in anyway and instead of helping him medically, they doubled down on his trauma by subjecting him to multiple Taser discharges,” said Fairhurst.
“I think it’s a totally bogus suit, and I was doing my job and that’s all that it was,” said Leslie Taylor, a former correctional officer at Fremont Correctional Facility, who is named in the suit among two others.
Taylor said medical crews eventually arrived on the scene to help Wright.
“I was doing what I was trained to do, and that was to stop a fight and get the chow hall under control,” she said.
Although Wright said the fight began after he was attacked from behind by another inmate, Taylor said Wright was the instigator.
“Mr. Wright had attacked another inmate during a lunch run at the prison,” she said. “He was given several directives to stop fighting, and he did not, so he was tased with probes. The course of the Taser probe was changed because he was moving around, and it did strike him in the head. We didn’t know he was having a medical issue. He was fighting us all,” she said.
Taylor said she was shocked by the lawsuit and didn’t know about it until FOX31 informed her of it.
“He was tased again on his calf,” she said, explaining that a supervisor instructed her to deploy her Taser. She said it was in the “dry stun” mode – which does not utilize probes. “(Wright) was down on the ground, and they were trying to cuff him and get him out of there, and he was fighting and kicking, and they were trying to make him stop doing that.”
Taylor said she was very nervous during the ordeal because she was locked in a chow hall with 90 offenders, “very scary people,” she said. “There was three officers in there, and they were coming at us like we were the ones who had done something wrong. If a fight breaks out in the chow hall, that’s the worst place to be.”
Fairhurst said he hopes this suit results in additional training for correctional officers.
“He deserved, under the Constitution — and also basic humanity — to be treated much, much better than he was,” said Fairhurst.
The Department of Corrections declined to comment on this story.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers have attempted to contact the other officers named in the suit but have not heard back from them.