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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

New Lawsuit Alleges Severe Abuse by Guards at Red Onion State Prison in Virginia

Written by: Sam Orlando

ROANOKE, VA — A recently filed lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia raises disturbing allegations of physical abuse and assault at Red Onion State Prison, a maximum-security facility in southwest Virginia. This lawsuit marks the third in a series of similar actions filed against guards at the prison.

The Lawsuit

In the lawsuit filed on September 18, 2023, the plaintiff, Garth Daniel Richmond, II, alleges severe abuse and physical harm inflicted upon him by two corrections officers, identified as T. Cox and A. Castle. Richmond is a prisoner currently housed at Red Onion State Prison.

The complaint outlines a harrowing sequence of events that occurred on November 15, 2021, detailing how Richmond was allegedly assaulted while fully restrained in leg shackles and handcuffs. The lawsuit alleges that the corrections officers violated his Eighth Amendment rights, which protect against "cruel and unusual punishments," as well as state laws against assault and battery.

Details of the Abuse

According to court documents, Richmond was escorted by Officers Cox and Castle to the prison's outside recreation modules. After choosing to return to his cell, he claims he was verbally abused by Cox. Upon re-entering his cell, the plaintiff alleges he was ordered to "get on his knees," despite having a medical pass due to recent surgery that precluded kneeling. The complaint states that when Richmond informed the officers of this, he was subjected to a violent yanking of his leg shackles and was eventually body-slammed onto a concrete floor. The assault allegedly continued with officers pulling his hair and applying extreme pressure to his surgically treated knee.

Richmond alleges that he sustained injuries requiring emergency surgery as a result of the alleged abuse. Medical records, camera footage, and grievance documents are cited as exhibits in the lawsuit.

Previous Complaints

This lawsuit follows two other similar cases filed against guards at Red Onion, amplifying concerns over systemic abuse at the facility.

Legal Recourse

The plaintiff reportedly attempted to resolve the issue internally through the prison's grievance procedure but received unsatisfactory and dismissive responses. Richmond is seeking a declaratory judgment stating that the physical abuse violated his Eighth Amendment rights and constituted an assault and battery under state law.


The case raises critical questions about oversight and conduct within the Virginia Department of Corrections, particularly at Red Onion State Prison. If proven, the allegations could point to a broader pattern of abuse requiring immediate intervention and oversight.

Neither Red Onion State Prison nor the Virginia Department of Corrections has publicly commented on the lawsuit as of yet. Legal experts suggest that, given the severity of the allegations and the presence of multiple similar complaints, an external investigation may be necessary.

Note: The details of the allegations have not yet been proven in court, and represent the Plaintiff's allegations. The Defendants will have an opportunity to respond to the Court, and Breaking Through will update our reports when those filings are received.

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