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Lawsuit Questions Officer Training


By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday raises questions about the training and oversight correctional officers at the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison.

The mother of inmate Charles Toll is suing the warden at Riverbend and nine correctional officers after the death of her son.

The lawsuit claims Warden, Ricky Bell, hasn't provided proper training to correctional officers who are involved in forcibly removing inmates from their cells. 

It also claims there has been a pattern of abuse by correctional officers at the prison.

NewsChannel Five Investigates first raised questions about the death of 33 year old Charles Toll last year.

Toll was serving time for aggravated burglary and he had a long history of disciplinary problems while in state custody. 

Toll's family claims his mental illness led to his disciplinary issues.

In August, officers at Riverbend forced Toll from his cell after he became combative, but something went wrong, and Toll died.

The Department of Correction initially said Toll died of natural causes. But an autopsy called Toll's death a homicide. 

It said Toll died from asphyxiation after guards restrained him and sat on him for more than ten minutes using a taser shield.

"When you don't have adequate training or supervision at the top, that's when this sort of disaster occurs," Attorney David Raybin said.

The lawsuit alleges there has been a pattern of abuse at Riverbend and cites three other inmates who claim they've been harmed after being forcibly removed from their cells. 

Toll's mom cannot sue the state, so she is suing the warden individually. 

The lawsuit claims "he provided little, if any, training to the guards as to the use of tasers and cell extraction techniques."

A Department of Correction spokesperson said the department does not comment on pending lawsuits.  She said an internal review showed guards followed proper procedures in Toll's case.

Attorney David Raybin found that hard to believe. 

"There's no policy on the planet that would allow an inmate to be restrained by a half dozen guards and die like this," Raybin said.


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