Virginia Prison Inmate Beaten, Files Lawsuit Against Warden and Others at Wallens Ridge State Prison
Written by: Sam Orlando
ABINGDON, VA - Complaining of beatings and corruption in the state prison system, Merell Tyrone Crutchfield, an inmate at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, has filed a lawsuit against Warden Jeffery Artrip and other unnamed defendants. The civil action, registered under case number 7:23-cv-00427, alleges a grave breach of conduct and violation of constitutional rights by the prison officials.
According to the lawsuit, Crutchfield alleges that the correctional officers permitted another inmate to assault him while he was in restraints on July 6, 2023. The incident purportedly occurred between 8 AM and 9:30 AM in the D-100 RHU section of the prison. The plaintiff asserts that this event led to physical injuries and inflicted significant emotional distress.
Crutchfield further claims that he requested the preservation of video footage of the incident and the provision of forms to document the assault. Despite his efforts, these requests were allegedly disregarded. Crutchfield also hints at intimidation tactics, stating he was warned of further harm if he continued to "run his mouth."
The lawsuit seeks damages of $250,000 for the physical harm and emotional distress sustained from the incident. Crutchfield also requests to be transferred from Wallens Ridge State Prison to mitigate the risk of further harm or retaliation. He has expressed a clear desire to avoid any prison facilities in the western region of Virginia, citing potential threats from family members of the staff implicated in his case.
Asserting the truthfulness of his statements under penalty of perjury, Crutchfield has requested a trial by jury. Filed on July 14, 2023, this legal action signals Crutchfield's intent to pursue justice through the court system, highlighting issues of inmate safety and the responsibility of correctional facilities to protect those in their custody.
Officials from the Virginia Department of Corrections have not yet replied to a request for comment, nor have they filed any response in federal court. This story will be updated with any comments we may receive after publication.