Attorneys for a former inmate at Auburn Correctional Facility have filed a legal petition against the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in which they describe a brutal assault by a corrections officer supervisor.
According to the petition filed Feb. 1, Matthew Raymond was incarcerated at ACF in September 2016 when he was violently attacked by Lt. Troy Mitchell. At the time, DOCCS said an internal investigation revealed Raymond's allegations were "unfounded." However, the case has since reopened, and Raymond is now asking DOCCS to turn over all documentation surrounding his assault.
The assault allegedly took place Sept. 14, 2016, after Raymond suffered a seizure at the prison. Raymond — who was 28 at the time — had sustained a traumatic brain injury prior to his incarceration for third-degree burglary in 2015, the petition said.
After seeing a nurse practitioner at Auburn Community Hospital, the petition said Raymond was discharged back to ACF's medical unit; he was then shackled and subjected to "a violent assault."
In the petition, the Yonkers law firm of Koob & Magoolaghan said Mitchell slowly dumped a large bucket of water on Raymond's nose and mouth, which was akin to waterboarding. Mitchell then reportedly struck Raymond on and around his face, neck, chest and groin with his fists and a baton, and repeatedly beat and twisted Raymond's genitals.
According to the petition, Raymond did not receive medical treatment for his injuries until January 2017, when he was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.
"Upon information and belief, Mr. Raymond's medical care providers at Upstate have concluded with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the permanent injuries he has suffered were a direct result of a blunt force trauma to his groin area," the petition said. "As a result, he must now utilize a catheter, and he fears he will need a catheter for the remainder of his life."
In August, following a nearly identical complaint from another inmate, DOCCS' Inspector General's Office reopened its investigation into the alleged assault, the petition said, and Mitchell, 54, was suspended without pay.
In response, DOCCS' spokesperson Patrick Bailey confirmed that Mitchell remains suspended as part of an ongoing investigation at Auburn prison; however, Bailey said the suspension was not connected to Raymond's allegations.
"After a thorough investigation by DOCCS' Office of Special Investigations, the only allegation of Lt. Mitchell and 'waterboarding' was unsubstantiated and, therefore, is not connected to his current status of suspended without pay," Bailey said in an email to The Citizen. "His current case is pending presentation before an arbitrator under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement."
Meanwhile, Raymond's attorneys filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law in November, seeking all documents, videos and photographs relevant to his assault. In December, DOCCS allegedly denied that request and failed to respond to a subsequent appeal.
That led to last week's petition filed in state Supreme Court in Albany, which argued that DOCCS' denial was "unreasonable." Raymond's attorneys have asked the court to reverse the department's decision, and to order DOCCS to provide the documentation he requested.
While DOCCS did not explain the reasoning behind its denial, Bailey said the department has taken measures to investigate all cases and complaints, and typically reviews video, photographs and medical records in addition to physical evidence.
"This department has zero tolerance for any behavior that jeopardizes the safety and security of our facilities and the individuals who live and work there," he said. "All allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated by our revamped Office of Special Investigations and those found to be at fault face the toughest discipline allowable under the collective bargaining agreement."
Raymond — who was sentenced to four to eight years in prison for third-degree burglary in 2015 — is currently incarcerated at Elmira Correctional Facility. He is eligible for parole next year.
Mitchell began his career as a corrections officer with DOCCS in February 1986. He was then promoted to lieutenant in 2006, and his 2016 salary was approximately $97,500. He remains suspended without pay.