- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Corrections officers at a New York state prison allegedly beat an inmate to death during a confrontation earlier this year in front of several witnesses, but prison officials have been far from forthcoming regarding details of the incident.

Samuel Harrell, a 30-year-old prisoner at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, N.Y., had reportedly told corrections officers on April 21 that he would be leaving the prison despite still having several years left to serve for a drug sentence, The New York Times reported.

A scuffle soon erupted and he was attacked by several staffers, including a group that fellow prisoners had dubbed the “Beat Up Squad,” The Times reported.

More than a dozen witnesses told The Times they saw upwards of 20 officers repeatedly kick and punch Harrell, a bipolar inmate described by fellow inmates and family members as often erratic.

“Like he was a trampoline, they were jumping on him,” inmate Edwin Pearson, told the paper.

“I saw the officers kicking him, jumping on his head multiple times and screaming, ‘Stop resisting,’ even though I didn’t see him moving,” recalled another.

According to witness accounts, Harrell was thrown or dragged down a staircase during the beating, The Times reported. An autopsy report by the Orange County medical examiner subsequently identified cuts and bruises to Harrell’s head and extremities and determined he had died of cardiac arrhythmia “following physical altercation with corrections officers.”

His death was ruled a homicide, though the ruling does not necessarily mean that a crime was committed.

James Miller, a spokesman for a union that represents corrections officers in New York state, told the paper that Harrell was “acting violently and appeared delusional as a result of apparently ingesting drugs” and injured jailers during the scuffle, though the autopsy report found no drugs in Harrell’s system.

“Rather than simply relying on allegations made by a handful of violent convicted felons, we will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to ensure a resolution to this tragic incident,” he told The Times in a statement.

State corrections officials would not comment to the paper about the allegations, but the New York state police confirmed that an investigation is underway.

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