Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

County May Settle With Beaten Inmate

County lawyer backs $18,000 payment on County Jail inmate's suit.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - May 10th, 2017 01:09 pm
Milwaukee County Jail and Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County Jail and Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County should settle a federal court lawsuit filed by a former County Jail inmate brutally attacked and beaten without provocation by another inmate while a country jailer allegedly was slow to react, a county lawyer has advised.

Gary L. Kimble alleged in his lawsuit that jail staff misdiagnosed or mishandled his attacker’s mental illness and wrongly assigned him to the general population, Assistant Corporation Counsel Julie P. Wilson said in a report to the County Board.

The beating Kimble received at the hands of Travis J. Moore was so bad that “the investigating detective observed Mr. Kimble to be unrecognizable due to facial injuries,” Wilson wrote.

Kimble “sustained significant injuries to his head and eyes and now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said. He is willing to accept $18,000 to settle the case, she said. The original complaint was for $2 million and Kimble later asked for $150,000, Wilson noted, so the proposed settlement is a big drop from that.

Kimble represented himself throughout most of the suit, filed in April 2016, federal court records show. He hired legal counsel in March of this year.

Kimble alleged that Moore was disrupting his jail unit before the attack. “Moore was kicking his cell door…telling CO (corrections officer) (Michael) Allen that he had let somebody into his room to rape him,” Kimble wrote. He also said in court documents that Moore was talking to himself and “making threats to kill and harm people.”

Allen, he said, knew Moore to be a potential risk, but did nothing to protect other inmates.

Kimble was was asleep in his cell when Moore ran in and began beating him, Kimble alleged.

Other inmates who witnessed the attack tried for three or four minutes to get Corrections Officer Dominique Smith to intervene, Kimble said. Another inmate reported that “it seemed that C/O D. Smith freaked and was in shock, which also prevented him from moving quickly to respond,” Kimble said.

A Sheriff’s Department report filed by Smith said that several corrections officers responded to the incident and “secured” Moore, but Smith told a Sheriff’s Department detective that Moore “eventually stopped the assault and surrendered himself to authorities,” according to a criminal complaint filed against Moore.

As a result of the attack, Kimble said, “I have vision problems, and I need a walker to keep balance when walking.

Wilson, in her memo, said Moore’s behavior had “raised some concerns,” but he was ultimately cleared to be housed in the general population.

There also are “some discrepancies about what information was shared between shifts,” she wrote.

Moore, the assailant, was evaluated by medical staff about 40 minutes after the assault, but the badly injured Kimble was not evaluated for more than an hour. He was ultimately taken to Froedtert Hospital for further evaluation.

Moore had some hand injuries. He told jail staff that “The demon told me to do it, and god isn’t helping me,” Smith said in his report.

Moore was eventually convicted of felony battery to an inmate. Circuit Judge Mark Sanders sentenced him to three years’ probation, with one year served at the House of Correction. Sanders also ordered Moore to undergo a mental health evaluation and comply with all recommended treatment or therapy.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

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