A former inmate at the Erie County Prison has filed a lawsuit against Erie County, claiming that he suffered life-threatening injuries while in custody.
Patrick Haight, 53, filed the three-count complaint on Thursday morning.
While being held on $500 bond on charges of driving under the influence of marijuana, the complaint says that Haight "sustained life-threatening injuries, including strokes, kidney failure, collapsed or punctured lung, torn or restricted carotid arteries, acute closed head injuries, broken ribs, ruptured eye socket and numerous cuts and abrasions," as a result of excessive force used by corrections officers at the prison.
According to the complaint, instead of providing Haight with medical attention, he was placed in solitary confinement and ended up on life support for 15 days because of his injuries.
The lawsuit, filed by Haight's lawyer Alec Wright, from the Law Offices of Timothy O'Brien in Pittsburgh, is seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.
Wright says Erie County deprived Haight of his Fourteenth Amendment right, to be free from the use of excessive force.
"The irrefutable fact of this lawsuit is, no matter how it shakes out, this excessive use of force existed," said Wright. "It was because of a culture of such use of force within Erie County."
On May 10, 2017, the suit claims that corrections officers became aggressive with Haight as they were escorting him back to the general population from a medical office, after he injured his toe.
While escorting Haight, the suit says officers struck him in the face and body with closed fists and pepper sprayed him.
The complaint says Haight was brought to an isolated shower area, where the officers continued to punch and kick him, while he was shackled.
While Haight laid motionless in handcuffs on the gym floor, the suit claims that an off-duty corrections officer kicked Haight in the head.
The incident was captured on surveillance video.
In December, a judge dismissed a charge of simple assault against 34-year-old Chris Cornelius, who was initially charged with kicking Haight in the head.
Erie County is not at liberty to discuss the details of the case because it is pending litigation, according to Gary Lee, the county's director of administration.