Erie County Reaches $1.1 Million Settlement with Former Prison Inmate
Erie County has agreed to a $1.1 million settlement with a former prison inmate to settle a lawsuit over claims he suffered life-threatening injuries while in custody, according to a news release Thursday.
Patrick Haight, 53, filed the three-count complaint in March.
While being held on $500 bond on charges of driving under the influence of marijuana, the complaint said 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.
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, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit was filed by Haight's lawyer Alec Wright from the Law Offices of Timothy O'Brien in Pittsburgh.
"The parties jointly acknowledge and wish to make clear that every person incarcerated in our institutional facilities are entitled to humane and just treatment in those facilities, afforded to them by properly trained prison personnel," according to a statement from the law firm Thursday.
Wright argued Erie County deprived Haight of his Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force.
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.
According to investigators, while escorting Haight, he was combative, and had reportedly spit at corrections officers, and grabbed an officer's duty belt.
The suit said officers punched and pepper sprayed him.
The complaint said Haight was brought to an isolated shower area where the officers continued to punch and kick him.
While Haight was handcuffed and restrained, 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 Corey Cornelius, who was initially charged with kicking Haight in the head.
Erie County Solicitor Richard Perhacs says the settlement was paid by the county’s insurance carrier.
And in a statement to Erie News Now he said, “The county can make no further comment, in order to adhere to the agreement between the parties.”