Newly released surveillance footage from inside an Ohio youth detention center shows guards dragging the limp body of a 15-year-old who’d just been gravely injured in a fight.
Despite Damarion Allen’s frightened pleas that they lay him back down and that something was wrong with his neck, the guards refused. The incident left Allen paralyzed from the chest down. He suffered a broken neck and spine, and later, his lungs collapsed.
The young man’s mother, Mary S. Washington, intends to sue Franklin County, according to the Columbus Dispatch. She said the way the guards handled her son after the fight worsened the severity of his injuries.
Records released to the Dispatch show that a guard error allowed the fight to happen, and that improper force was used against Allen in the aftermath.
The video footage shows Allen, who was supposed to be separated from other facility residents, walking through a common area, dropping laundry into a pile. Another teen is nearby, and the two come at each other and quickly begin fighting while a female guard stands by watching.
The conflict is brief — shortly after the two slam to the ground, Allen goes limp, knocked unconscious. At that point, guards intervene, pulling the other teen off of Allen. Guards swarm around him, lift him by his arms and drag him to a cell.
Allen utters, “My neck,” and tells the guards he can’t walk. He begs them to lay him down. One staffer, who the Dispatch identifies as supervisor Talia Sumney, denies his requests and tells the other guards that Allen can walk and that “use of force” is needed against the immobile teen. Once in the cell, they drape his arms and head onto a bunk, his torso and legs sprawled limply on the floor.
An internal investigation provided to the Dispatch found wrongdoing on the part of Sumney and Latashia Lewis, the guard who erroneously let Allen come into contact with other residents when he was on medical isolation ahead of a transfer to a state youth prison — a protocol in place to prevent incoming youth from bringing COVID-19 into the facility.
The investigation also found that the use of force against Allen was inappropriate because he was injured and not resisting. Unit manager Alfred Brown, who conducted the investigation, recommended “formal discipline up to and including termination” for the two employees deemed at fault.