ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A female inmate at a Florida prison is suing the state corrections agency, saying she was left paralyzed after being beaten by four guards.
Cheryl Weimar and her husband, Karl, said in their lawsuit that her civil rights were violated when she was nearly beaten to death by guards last month at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida.
Weimar was left with a broken neck and is now a paraplegic because of the guards’ use of force, according to the lawsuit.
Florida Department of Corrections spokesman Rob Klepper said Thursday in an email that the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation and that it hasn’t yet been served with the lawsuit.
The guards have been reassigned to jobs that don’t have contact with inmates as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the case, Klepper said.
In a statement provided by the agency, Corrections Secretary Mark Inch said, “We recognize that preliminary reports from this incident are concerning. We’re committed to examining all the details regarding this situation and ensuring appropriate action is taken.”
Weimar was in the middle of a six-year prison sentence for battery with a deadly weapon and resisting an officer with violence. She was set to be released in 2021.
Weimar had a history of physical and mental disabilities, and a hip condition that made it difficult for her to walk and perform manual labor, the lawsuit said.
Two weeks ago, when she was cleaning toilets as a prison work assignment, she asked for an accommodation for her physical disability. The guards rejected the request and they began arguing. The confrontation caused an “adverse psychological episode” and Weimar requested that medical staff be called for her psychological emergency, the lawsuit said.
“Instead, one or more of the John Doe defendants slammed plaintiff Cheryl Weimar to the ground. While down, they brutally beat her with blows to her head, neck, and back,” the lawsuit said. “At least one John Doe defendant elbowed plaintiff Cheryl Weimar in the back of her neck, causing her to suffer a broken neck.”
The guards then dragged Weimar to a wheelchair “like a rag doll,” allowing her head to hit the floor repeatedly, and took her outside of the compound, where there were no surveillance cameras, “so they could continue their brutal attack,” the lawsuit said.
Weimar now has to breathe through a tracheostomy, is being tube-fed and will require round-the-clock medical care for the rest of her life, the lawsuit said.
Weimar was being cared for at an Ocala hospital under guard. Her attorney said in a court filing that guards were preventing him from taking photos or video of her injuries. He was seeking an injunction to stop that.