‘I don’t want to die in Raymond’ | Detainee says he was jumped while a guard looked on, laughed
RAYMOND, Miss. (WLBT) - Days after an inmate at the Hinds County Detention Center died of a medical episode after being attacked by fellow inmates, another detainee says he was jumped while a guard looked on and laughed.
Anthony Thomas said he was attacked the morning of November 3. He said his injuries were so bad that he had to be taken to Merit Health for treatment.
“It happened around 9 a.m. I got off of breakfast and put my tray up and that’s when it happened,” he said. “I just want to go home. I don’t want to die in Raymond.”
Compounding Thomas’ frustration is the fact that he believes he should already be out of jail. Court records indicate Thomas accepted a plea offer of a suspended sentence from the state on October 13. However, he has yet to appear before a judge to officially enter that plea.
Thomas, who is facing a nearly decade-old drug charge, maintains his innocence but agreed to the plea to get out of jail.
“I just entered the plea to get out of jail,” he said. “Because they’re trying to kill me.”
Thomas says around a dozen inmates attacked him. He said during the attack, he sustained injuries to his face, head, and ribs.
All the while, he said a guard watched but did not intervene.
“The guard was laughing,” he recalled. “He didn’t do anything about it.”
Heather Scott, Thomas’ girfriend, said she tried to visit him at the hospital but was not allowed.
Inmates are not allowed visitors in the hospital, per jail policy.
She says she caught a glimpse of him in his hospital bed but initially didn’t recognize him because he had been beaten up so badly.
“I looked dead in his face and did not recognize him until he called my name,” she said. “I didn’t even notice him because his face was so swollen.”
Thomas, 39, was arrested on September 19, on a felony marijuana possession charge dating back to 2012.
The Jackson resident was initially assigned to A-Pod, the same unit where Michael Richardson was attacked on October 18.
“Everybody is on the floor because none of the cells lock,” Thomas said. “Everyone walks around.”
Meanwhile, because of a broken air conditioning unit, detention officers currently allow detainees to sleep in the common area because the air conditioning system there went out.
Thomas said prior to his attack, he slept in the shower because he was uncomfortable sleeping in the open and because his cellmate would not allow him to stay in his cell.
He said sleeping on the shower floor also kept him away from “the bugs and the gnats” that show up at night.
Thomas, who is currently in the medical unit, was expected to be transferred to B-Pod this week.
Even with the promise of being transferred, he’s still worried for his life.
“They talked about coming in and doing it again,” he said, referring to the detainees that beat him. “They basically run the unit... the inmates.”
A report filed on October 28 following the latest death said that despite the dangers, “no apparent corrective action” was being taken.
Monitors were appointed to oversee conditions of the Raymond Detention Center by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves.
They are responsible for not only reporting on conditions but ensuring the county is complying with a federal consent decree designed to address concerns at the jail and with the county’s overall criminal justice system.
In April, monitors said A-Pod was “an unsafe and unsanitary housing area. Inmates live in darkness much of the time because most of the lights do not work.”
The reports go on to discuss staffing shortages, problems with the HVAC system, the presence of trash dumpster cells, the high number of assaults and fires, and the amounts of contraband found during shake-downs.
Acting Sheriff Marshand Crisler said previously that he was working to address those problems. He said since being appointed to the position late this summer, he has worked with the board of supervisors to raise detention officer salaries by 5%. He also said he as conducted numerous shake-downs at the center to remove contraband.
Thomas, though, says at least four others in A-Pod have been beaten up since he’s been locked up. Meanwhile, he says another detainee was stabbed and was currently being housed in the medical unit with him.
Jail conditions aside, Thomas questions why the judge assigned to his case has yet to accept his plea deal.
Thomas was initially charged in 2012 for being in possession of between 240 and 500 pounds of marijuana.
A mistrial was declared in Thomas’ case in 2015, but the matter was reopened by the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office in 2018, according to Public Defender Gail Lowery.
His bond was revoked after he failed to show up for court multiple times, according to a source familiar with the case.
Court records indicate that on October 13, 2021, Thomas agreed to accept the state’s offer of an eight-year suspended sentence and supervised release.
That plea was emailed to the court on October 14, records show. However, as of November 9, Thomas was still behind bars.
The case is assigned to Judge Adrienne Wooten. Lowery said it would be up to Wooten to schedule a date for Thomas to officially enter his plea.
An order handed down on October 8 originally set plea dates for Thomas for Friday, March 11, and Friday, April 1, both in 2022.
Officials in the judge’s office have not responded to our request for comment.
Crisler said he would look into the incident, but has not gotten back to us.
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