Immigrants Held By ICE In Ohio Jail Say Beatings ‘Ongoing’
By Craig Clough
Law360 (December 9, 2020, 2:16 PM EST) –
Two immigrants held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a Butler County, Ohio, jail sued the facility, the county, its board of commissioners and several individual correctional officers Tuesday, claiming their federal civil rights were violated through severe beatings and racial slurs delivered by inadequately trained staff.
The lawsuit filed in Ohio federal court described several excessive beatings former cellmates Bayong Brown Bayong and Ahmed Adem claim they suffered, including one which resulted in Bayong losing his front tooth.
“The beatings are ongoing,” the immigrants said in the lawsuit, adding that “[l]ocal nonprofits are extremely concerned that Mr. Bayong and Mr. Adem are in immediate danger.”
Bayong is a refugee from Cameroon currently detained at the Butler County Jail, while Adem is originally from Somalia and was held at the jail from July 1 to around Dec. 1 before being transferred to immigration detention at the Calhoun County Jail in Battle Creek, Michigan, according to the lawsuit.
Adem and Bayong say in their lawsuit that the county, the jail and the other defendants have deprived them of their federal civil rights, including under the Eighth and 14th Amendments, through the repeated beatings and racism they suffered at the hands of correction guards, including three individual defendants identified as A. Roberts, L. Browning and Officer Blankton.
Aside from the alleged beatings and racial slurs aimed at their African heritage, the immigrants claim a correctional officer grabbed Adem’s prayer rug and almost stuffed it into a toilet before another correctional officer intervened, and Roberts once threatened to kill Bayong.
The immigrants claim there is inadequate training and oversight of staff at the jail in violation of ICE’s Performance-Based National Detention Standards that state physical force “shall only be used when both necessary and reasonable.”
The lawsuit suggests the beatings were always unnecessary or unprovoked, including once when Adem first arrived at the facility and asked about getting food, and once when Adem and Bayong expressed concern about being moved into isolation cells.
Officers at the jail also called Bayong and Adem numerous racial epithets, including “terrorist,” “dirty Africans,” “monkeys” and “goats,” while an officer also told Adem, “This is not your country, you have no rights here,” according to the suit.
The immigrants are seeking, among other things, unspecified damages, injunctive relief “to protect their safety,” and a declaration that the defendants caused the plaintiffs’ injuries in violation of the Eighth Amendment right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
The Butler County Board of Commissioners and counsel for the immigrants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Adem and Bayong are represented by Amy E. Norris of Norris Law Group and John C. Camillus.
Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available.
The case is Bayong Brown Bayong et al. v. County of Butler of the State of Ohio et al., case number 1:20-cv-00989, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
–Editing by Philip Shea.
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