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Alabama prisoner dies after correctional officers “apply physical measures”

Eddie Burkhalter

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An inmate at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer died Saturday after correctional officers “applied physical measures” to the inmate on Friday, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. 

Steven Davis, 35, of Graysville was pronounced dead at a local hospital on Saturday, according to a press release on Monday from the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). 

“On the morning of October 4, two Donaldson correctional officers say inmate Davis rushed out of his cell brandishing one prison-made weapon in each hand and attempted to strike an officer,” according to the press release.  

“After repeated verbal commands and the use of standard methods to disarm the inmate, Davis refused to comply. At that time, correctional officers applied physical measures to diffuse the threat in order to remove the weapons from the scene and secure the inmate.”

Davis was taken to the prison’s infirmary, according to the press release, and later taken by helicopter to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 10:35 a.m. on Saturday. 

It was unclear Monday whether Davis’s body has been sent for an autopsy, how many correctional officers were involved in his death or which agencies may be investigating. Questions to ADOC on Monday evening were unanswered as of Monday night. 

Davis in 2009, pleaded guilty to murder for his connection to the 2006 robbery and shooting death of a Graysville man and was sentenced to 20 years, court records show. 

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Davis had planned the robbery with two accomplices, and was waiting outside in a stolen car when Anthony Wayne Blackwell shot and killed Mark Anthoney Carroll, according to court records and news accounts a third person, Amanda Shae Moore, was present at the robbery, and along with Blackwell and Davis, pleaded guilty to murder. 

Prior to being released on probation in 2015, Davis was written up for 10 mostly nonviolent infractions while in prison, but in 2009, he was disciplined for assaulting another inmate and in 2011, received a disorderly conduct charge, court records show. 

Davis’s probation was revoked on Sept. 20, 2016, in connection with subsequent drug and theft charges and he was sentenced to 20 years, according to court records. 

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A letter from Jefferson County’s Community Corrections Program to Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones in August 2016, recommended that Davis be placed on house arrest and indicated that Davis may have suffered from drug and alcohol addictions. 

ADOC said in the Monday statement that Davis’s death is being investigated. 

ACLU of Alabama in a tweet Monday stated that Davis’s family has set up a Gofundme page to help pay for his funeral expenses. 

A person who says she is Davis’s mother on that Gofundme page wrote that she visited Davis at the hospital after the incident and that when she arrived he was on life support and “had been beat in the head repeatedly that you can not even recognize him I held his hands until he died from head injuries.”  

Attempts Monday evening to contact that person were unsuccessful. 

Davis’s death comes as Alabama’s prison system is under threat of federal takeover. The U.S. Department of Justice in April wrote a letter to the state informing leaders that Alabama may be in vilation of prisoners’ Constitutional rights to protection from physical violence and sexual assault while incarcerated by housing them in understaffed, unsafe facilities. 

The U.S. Department of Justice’s April report on Alabama prisons notes systemic problems of rampant violence between inmates and to staff, sexual assaults, improvised weapons, unsafe and unsanitary living conditions and a serious understaffing problem. 

“Our investigation revealed that an excessive amount of violence, sexual abuse, and prisoner deaths occur within Alabama’s prisons on a regular basis,” the report states. 

According to the Justice Department’s report the Donaldson Correctional Facility employed just 35 percent of the recommended level of correctional officers.

 

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Alabama Department of Corrections investigating inmate death

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of an inmate at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

“While Adams’ exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, at the time of his passing inmate Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, was not under quarantine following direct exposure to an inmate or staff member who previously had tested positive, and was not in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 test,” said ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose in the message.

Because Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he had not been tested, Rose said.

An ADOC worker who contacted APR Friday morning about the death, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from ADOC administrators, said it’s suspected that Adams may have overdosed after being given a cigarette laced with a drug.

Adams is at least the sixteenth state inmate to die this year from either homicide, suspected drug overdose or suicide. Additionally, fifteen inmates and two prison workers have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Alabama House speaker addresses arrest of Rep. Will Dismukes on theft charge

Eddie Burkhalter

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Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, turned himself in at the Montgomery County Detention Center Thursday.

Speaker of the Alabama House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, on Friday said a state representative arrested and charged with theft on Thursday is alleged to have committed the theft before he was elected and is due a presumption of innocence. 

Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, turned himself in at the Montgomery County Detention Center Thursday after a warrant for his arrest was issued for felony theft from a flooring business where he worked. The theft occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said Thursday.

“Like all Americans, Rep. Dismukes is due the presumption of innocence, and it is important to note that the crime of which he is accused was said to have occurred well before he announced his candidacy for the Alabama House,” McCutcheon said in a statement Friday. “As a former law enforcement officer, I have faith in the criminal justice process and trust that he will receive a full and fair hearing.” 

“Both Democrats and Republicans have been accused of similar crimes in the past, and we cannot tolerate such behavior whether the lawmaker involved has a D or an R beside their name,” McCutcheon continued. 

Dismukes in recent weeks has faced a torrent of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after posting to Facebook an image of himself attending a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Dismukes has said he has no plans to resign, but if convicted of felony theft, Dismukes would be removed from office.

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Arrest warrant issued for Rep. Will Dismukes for felony theft

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been accused of theft of property, a Class B felony. (WSFA)

An arrest warrant has been issued for Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, for felony theft from a business where he worked, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said Thursday.

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018, Bailey said during a press conference.

Bailey said the charge is a Class B felony and levied when a person steals in excess of $2,500 and that “I will tell you that the alleged amount is a lot more than that.” 

“The warrant has just been signed, his attorney has been notified and we are giving him until late this afternoon to turn himself in,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the employer contacted the district attorney’s office with a complaint about the theft on May 20, and after reviewing bank records and interviewing witnesses, the decision was made to charge Dismukes with the theft. 

WSFA reported Thursday that the theft occurred at Dismukes’ former employer, Weiss Commercial Flooring Inc. in East Montgomery. Bailey did not provide any more specifics on the charge but said the employer signed the arrest warrant after countless hours of investigation on the part of the DA’s office.

While the charge stems from a complaint filed months ago, Dismukes been in the headlines recently and faced a torrent of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after posting to Facebook an image of himself attending a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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The event was hosted by an individual with close ties to the League of the South, a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In response, Dismukes stepped down from his post as a pastor at an Autauga County Baptist church but defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature.

If convicted of the felony, Dismukes would be immediately removed from his seat in the Alabama House, to which he was elected in 2018.

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In June, the Alabama Democratic Party called for his resignation over previous social media posts glorifying the Confederacy.

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Alabama Department of Corrections investigating death of 28-year-old inmate

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of a 28-year-old inmate at the St. Clair Correctional Facility as a possible suicide. 

Charles Labarron Braggs was found unresponsive by prison officials in his cell on Monday, and life-saving attempts were unsuccessful, the department said in a message to APR on Thursday.

Braggs was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, and the department said in the statement that there’s “no evidence of a use-of-force incident” and that the investigation into his death is ongoing. 

“Use-of-force” refers to instances when correctional officers use physical force with an inmate. 

Braggs’ death is at least the sixth suspected suicide among those serving in Alabama prisons so far this year, according to the ACLU of Alabama’s Campaign for Smart Justice.

The U.S. Justice Department in April 2019, released a report detailing what federal investigators found were systemic problems of violence, sexual assaults, drugs, high levels of homicides and suicides and corruption in Alabama prisons.

ADOC continues to defend the department in a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center over mental health care and treatment of inmates in state prisons, arguing in the complaint that the department was indifferent to the health of those inmates, who were dying by suicide in greater and greater numbers.

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The U.S. Department of Justice last week released a scathing report detailing systemic excessive use-of-force by Alabama correctional officers against inmates in the state’s prisons for men. The federal government believes the acts of violence against inmates violates the Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

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