Former B.C. gang associate sues pretrial staff saying he was beaten for hours | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Former B.C. gang associate sues pretrial staff saying he was beaten for hours

September 15, 2015 - 2:54 PM

SURREY, B.C. - An inmate has filed a lawsuit against the B.C. government and corrections staff at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre where he alleges his screams were ignored during a five-hour beating.

Daniel Cunningham said in his notice of civil claim that he was repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped on and had his head forced into a toilet in an attempt to drown him.

Cunningham said two fellow inmates led him to a cell near a guard's desk before he was assaulted and knocked unconscious at least three times.

"He was forced to lick his own blood off the shoes of his attackers, and clean his blood off the floor and walls using his clothes," the court document said.

The former Red Scorpions gang associate, who is now in protective custody, said he suffered a brain injury, multiple broken bones, chipped teeth and facial lacerations as a result of the attack in June.

The lawsuit said other inmates on the unit yelled at the attackers to kill him but staff did not intervene until his cellmate activated an alarm from another cell.

Cunningham was remanded into custody in April on drug-trafficking charges and then remanded on robbery charges about three weeks later.

He pleaded guilty to the drug charges on June 11 and was sentenced to six months, which he served at the pretrial centre.

His notice of claim said that he'd initially told the intake officer that he knew Red Scorpion gang members in H-unit, where he wouldn't mind being housed but later said he didn't want to be "pulled back into that lifestyle."

The statement said he told the assistant deputy warden and a nurse that "if it became known that he intended to leave the lifestyle, he would be at risk of violence from members or affiliates of the Red Scorpions."

Cunningham was transferred to H-unit anyway on June 10, the day before being escorted to court in Abbotsford, where he pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking charges and received a six-month sentence.

He said that when he was returned to H-unit, other inmates snubbed him, his belongings were gone and two inmates beat him in a cell that evening.

"The sounds of the assault, including the plaintiff's screaming and moaning, the repeated flushing of the toilet, and the sounds of other inmates on H-unit taunting the plaintiff and directing how the plaintiff should next be assaulted were audible to persons on H-unit as well as those on D-unit, which is immediately below H-unit," said the statement of claim.

Staff, including four officers on the two units, were aware or should have been aware of the assault but were negligent and failed to take action when he was missing for the inmate count, the court document states.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

BC Corrections spokeswoman Cindy Rose said the government has not yet been served with the notice of claim but will review the document when that happens.

"We do not tolerate any incidents of violence and each and every incident is reviewed," she said.

— By Camille Bains in Vancouver

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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