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This is horrible - Excessive and unnecessary force

Posted by on Apr. 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM
  • 155 Replies

Maine officials seeking pepper-spray video leak

By David Hench dhench@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

The Maine Department of Corrections is investigating to determine how the press obtained video and documents about a captain's treatment of an inmate last year.

click image to enlarge

In this video image, Capt. Shawn Welch sprays OC spray into the face of Paul Schlosser who is bound in a restraint chair after the inmate spit at an officer on June 10, 2012.

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NOTE TO READERS

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram is publishing the entire video of the June 10, 2012, incident involving inmate Paul Schlosser so readers can get a complete picture of what happened. The video, which was shot by a prison employee, runs 2 hours and 10 minutes. Viewers should be aware that both the full video and the 17-minute excerpt (which depicts the most crucial moments) contain explicit language, violence and disturbing images. View the videos.

The video and related documents recount how Capt. Shawn Welch, an official at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, usedpepper spray on an inmate who was bound in a restraint chair, then left him in distress for more than 20 minutes. A story about the incident appeared in this week's Maine Sunday Telegram.

Scott Burnheimer, superintendent of the medium- and minimum-security prison, fired Welch over the incident, but that decision was overruled by Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte, who gave Welch a 30-day suspension, according to the documents and interviews.

The newspaper story and video posted on the paper's website led the chairmen of the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to seek a review of the incident.

The committee plans to review the incident in the context of the department's experience with use of force and its policies for investigations, said Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland.

It asked the Corrections Department Wednesday to provide data on the prisons' use of force and investigations, and plans to have the department's leadership discuss that data and the incident with legislators on March 27.

The Department of Corrections has assigned an investigator to determine how the information got out.

"Your possession of that indicates a breach of security on our part and we absolutely do need to look into that," said Associate Commissioner Jody Breton. "We certainly will be tightening up security -- where (information) is stored, who has access."

Breton said the probe is not being conducted because the story and video cast the department in a poor light, but because it revealed private information about an inmate.

Advocates for prisoners and for corrections officers criticized the investigation.

"The use of the department's resources should be going into training of their staff and officers and management so this kind of incident doesn't happen again," said Judy Garvey of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition. "Trying to find out how the information got into the hands of a reporter shows a reluctance to have transparency. It reeks of government heavy-handedness in oversight.

"Certainly, the inmate's right to privacy should be respected. There's always a fine line between (that and) what the public needs to know to keep abuse and tragedy from happening," Garvey said. "We feel the department itself is probably not the best arbiter of that kind of decision,"

Garvey said the coalition favors having a citizens group of prisoner advocates working with the department.

James Mackie, spokesman for the union that represents corrections officers, said he is not surprised that the department is investigating.

"The number of investigations since (Ponte) has taken over have just increased exponentially," he said.

Mackie said he was surprised that the incident, which happened on June 10, took so long to come to light. Welch was disciplined in August and September.

"We were all aware of the issue at MCC. There was no way it was going to be kept secret," Mackie said.

Breton said she does not know whether investigations have increased under Ponte.

The newspaper's story and the accompanying video offered a rare glimpse inside the prison and into a confrontation between officers and a medicated, mentally ill inmate.

Paul Schlosser had received hospital treatment for a gouge he inflicted on his left arm, but had repeatedly removed the dressing in an effort to get medication and a book to distract him.

Inmates who hurt themselves to manipulate staff are among the most difficult to deal with, Ponte said last week.

Officers restrained Schlosser in a restraint chair so the medical staff could treat his arm, because he refused to go to the medical unit voluntarily.

When one officer pinned his head to the chair, Schlosser struggled and spit at an officer. Welch sprayed him at close range with pepper spray, called OC spray, from a canister intended to be used on multiple people at a distance of 18 to 20 feet, according to an investigator's report.

Welch then refused to let Schlosser, who said he couldn't breathe, wash his face for 24 minutes. A spit mask was placed over Schlosser's mouth and nose, trapping the pepperspray against his face.

An investigation concluded that Welch's use of force was excessive and motivated in part by personal animosity.

Burnheimer fired Welch and denied his appeal, saying he had discussed it with Ponte, according to department documents.

But Ponte said last week that Welch was never actually fired.


http://www.pressherald.com/news/mdc-seeking-pepper-spray-video-source_2013-03-21.html?searchterm=pepper+spray


Watch the video.

by on Apr. 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM
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Replies (1-10):
EireLass
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 6:28 PM
3 moms liked this

I have a hard time feeling sorry for prisoners.

mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 6:39 PM
9 moms liked this

Regardless, no one deserves to be treated like this. The article said the prisoner is mentally ill. It doesn't say what he did. For all we know he could be a drug addict and is in prison for being busted for drugs. Or he could be a serial killer, or something in between. 

I don't know. I don't really care. Abuse of prisoners is wrong. They tortured this man. 

Quoting EireLass:

I have a hard time feeling sorry for prisoners.

Generica
by on Apr. 25, 2013 at 7:40 PM

I dated a guy who worked in the prisons for 12 years...oh the stories...he quit because he felt there were a lot of good people there for stupid shit.

My own brother was in prison for two years over an aggrivated road rage incident. He was drunk too..or coming off a drunk (he hadnt had a drink for an hour before he was in the car).

He had NO PRIORS. It was an election year. The incident happend in the town Sheriff Joe lives. I could say more about this town but let me just say the cops there are pretty spoiled compared to the ones in bigger cities.

I am not saying my brother was not at fault, he was. But the book was thrown at him for other agendas IMHO. 

Generica
by on Apr. 25, 2013 at 7:42 PM
3 moms liked this

The article says the pepper spray canister that the cop was using was meant to be sprayed feet away from a group of people...its more crowd control I am assuming. But you can see in the vid he sprayed it a foot away from his face. I just see way too much testosterone going on here.

Kudos to the person videotaping, they probably knew about this certain cop and decided to blow the whistle.

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 8:35 PM
2 moms liked this

 No kidding!  This is ridiculous that they did this to a restrained man. 

Quoting mehamil1:

Regardless, no one deserves to be treated like this. The article said the prisoner is mentally ill. It doesn't say what he did. For all we know he could be a drug addict and is in prison for being busted for drugs. Or he could be a serial killer, or something in between. 

I don't know. I don't really care. Abuse of prisoners is wrong. They tortured this man. 

Quoting EireLass:

I have a hard time feeling sorry for prisoners.

 

Generica
by on Apr. 25, 2013 at 8:38 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting TranquilMind:

 No kidding!  This is ridiculous that they did this to a restrained man. 

Quoting mehamil1:

Regardless, no one deserves to be treated like this. The article said the prisoner is mentally ill. It doesn't say what he did. For all we know he could be a drug addict and is in prison for being busted for drugs. Or he could be a serial killer, or something in between. 

I don't know. I don't really care. Abuse of prisoners is wrong. They tortured this man. 

Quoting EireLass:

I have a hard time feeling sorry for prisoners.

 

He was restrained and medicated. Can you imagine the hell he must have been feeling? I have no idea about his sentencing or anything but that vid is pretty out there, I don't see how what they did was necessary.


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Apr. 25, 2013 at 8:42 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Generica:


Quoting TranquilMind:

 No kidding!  This is ridiculous that they did this to a restrained man. 

Quoting mehamil1:

Regardless, no one deserves to be treated like this. The article said the prisoner is mentally ill. It doesn't say what he did. For all we know he could be a drug addict and is in prison for being busted for drugs. Or he could be a serial killer, or something in between. 

I don't know. I don't really care. Abuse of prisoners is wrong. They tortured this man. 

Quoting EireLass:

I have a hard time feeling sorry for prisoners.

 

He was restrained and medicated. Can you imagine the hell he must have been feeling? I have no idea about his sentencing or anything but that vid is pretty out there, I don't see how what they did was necessary.


I agree with all of you.

Seems some of our law enforcement, in varying areas of work, are taking it upon themselves to act in a manner that should not be condoned nor legal.


abbie.alder
by on Apr. 25, 2013 at 8:43 PM
If prisons were like this everywhere the system wouldn't be so full, because people would be scared of going to prison.
Raintree
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 8:53 PM
3 moms liked this


Quoting abbie.alder:

If prisons were like this everywhere the system wouldn't be so full, because people would be scared of going to prison.

facepalm.

That's not why prisons are full.

Raintree
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 8:55 PM
1 mom liked this

Well that's delightful. $10 that the people who like this think that Jean ValJean was treated badly in Les Mis.

But let's keep terrorizing prisoners. Yes, I said it. Terrorizing.

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