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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Red Onion State Prison Officials for Civil and Human Rights Violations

Written by: Sam Orlando

Red Onion State Prison Sued Again

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA – A federal lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, accuses Red Onion State Prison officials of excessive force, including the improper use of pepper spray, and the ultimate beating an inmate claims he suffered. Randy Lee Lassiter Jr., currently incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison, has levied serious accusations against multiple employees of the Virginia Department of Corrections under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking redress for alleged violations of his constitutional rights.

Lassiter's complaint outlines a series of distressing events that purportedly took place within the confines of Red Onion State Prison, a facility known for its maximum-security measures. It's also known for the myriad of lawsuits filed against it, many with claims similar to Lassiters, and many still pending before the Federal Courts.

Lawsuit Alleges Use of Pepper Spray and Beatings

Lassiter's lawsuit names several defendants, including Sergeant Looney, Lieutenant Fleming, Correctional Officer Irving, and other staff members, alleging a pattern of excessive force, mental and physical abuse, and deliberate indifference to Lassiter's medical needs.

According to the complaint, the series of events leading to the lawsuit began on November 23, 2023, when Lt. Fleming allegedly, in an attempt to cause distress, threatened to dispose of Lassiter's personal property, exacerbating an already tense situation given Lassiter's diagnosed mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder and PTSD. The situation escalated further when Sgt. Looney purportedly deployed pepper spray against Lassiter in violation of Department of Corrections protocol, followed by additional instances of physical force from other correctional staff members, including being maced a second time, beaten during a decontamination process, and subjected to harsh physical restraints.

Lassiter Alleges Medical Neglect After Beating by Staff Members

Lassiter's allegations extend to claims of medical neglect, asserting that after these incidents, he was denied necessary medical evaluation and treatment for his injuries, which included extreme pain and difficulty breathing due to asthma. The complaint details further abuses, including being placed in ambulatory restraints for extended periods and suffering retaliatory actions for prior lawsuits filed against the Department of Corrections and its employees.

Seeking justice for what he describes as a gross violation of his 4th, 8th, and 14th Amendment rights, Lassiter has requested compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages totaling $10,000,000, along with injunctive relief to prevent future misconduct by the Department of Corrections staff. The lawsuit also highlights systemic issues within Virginia's correctional system, including the use of excessive force, inadequate medical care, and the lack of accountability mechanisms for correctional officers' actions.

Will Justice Come to Red Onion State Prison?

As this and the other bevy of federal lawsuit against Red Onion State Prison progress, it promises to shed light on the conditions faced by inmates at Red Onion State Prison and potentially catalyze reforms aimed at ensuring the humane and lawful treatment of all individuals under state custody.


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