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LI man files $70M jail beating lawsuit against Suffolk County

Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead, as seen

Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead, as seen on Friday. Credit: James Carbone

A Copiague man has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $70 million against Suffolk County and others one year after he says several correction officers kicked and punched him, causing serious injuries that required reconstructive surgery on his face.

Attorneys for Ramel Giggetts, 33, filed the lawsuit on Monday in federal court in Central Islip, naming as defendants the county, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Department, the jail medical unit he says neglected his serious injuries and as many as 10 correctional officers he said participated in the Aug. 30, 2018, beating at the jail in Riverhead that left him bleeding.

“These are injuries that don’t happen from someone slipping in the shower,” said Frederick K. Brewington, the Hempstead attorney who is representing Giggetts in the civil action. “These are serious injuries that come from a vicious beating done by the hands of individuals that are supposed to protect him.”

Giggetts said in the lawsuit that the defendants in the case “wrongfully physically attacked plaintiff, causing him severe and permanent physical, mental and emotional impairments.”

Brewington also said his client has schizophrenia and was denied medication throughout his stay in jail.

Suffolk County Attorney Dennis Brown said his office had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on the case. The Suffolk Sherriff's Department did not respond to a request for comment. 

Injuries listed in the 64-page document include five cracked or broken ribs, “internal bleeding stemming from his pancreas and from the mid to left abdomen,” black eyes, a broken nose, cracked and loosened teeth and several facial fractures including a bashed-in eye socket.

The lawsuit claims the beating happened on a day when Giggetts, who entered the facility in late July 2018, was scheduled for a court appearance. Just before passing through a metal detector, the lawsuit says, Giggetts asked to use the restroom to wash his hands and get a drink of water.

He then began removing his shoes in a sally port, as required, when an officer grabbed him “by his shirt and forcefully slammed his body against the wall,” the lawsuit said. Up to 10 officers, the lawsuit said, attacked Giggetts, kicking and punching him, slamming his head into the ground several times.

They then, it said, restrained him in a painful position by bending his legs backward, and later handcuffed him to a chair for up to three hours despite his injuries.

A jail nurse, the lawsuit said, observed Giggetts after about 45 minutes in the chair and determined that his injuries were minor. But later that day, an official decided that Giggetts should be seen by a physician, the lawsuit says, and he was taken first to Peconic Bay Medical Center, then transferred by sheriff's department officials to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where he underwent the surgeries.

The lawsuit said that cosmetic and craniofacial surgeon James Bradley indicated in Giggetts’ medical report that Giggetts “was involved in an assault to right side of his face and sustained right facial injuries. Ophthalmology saw him, and he has retinal detachment, complains of blurry vision, some diplopia. He has depression of his right maxillary anterior face and bruising.” It continued that he had other facial wounds including a “large orbital wall fracture and anterior sinus fracture.”

The lawsuit also said that Giggetts ultimately received a sentence of probation after he pleaded guilty to a charge that his other attorney, Cathryn Harris-Marchesi of Hempstead, said was burglary.

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