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“It broke a piece of me.” Man stabbed and scalded in prison. His attackers weren’t charged after flawed investigation

Posted: 6:00 AM, Mar 31, 2022
Updated: 2022-03-31 18:22:11-04

BALTIMORE — On June 10, 2021, an incarcerated individual was violently attacked at a local Baltimore prison.

Three suspects were seen on surveillance video stabbing the sleeping inmate and burning him with boiling hot water. Prison investigators identified the individuals, but no charges were filed.

Nine months after the assault, the victim still suffers physical and emotional trauma.

“I was dreaming at first and just felt something hot,” said the victim, who asked that we conceal his identity over concerns for his safety.

The victim, who was convicted of a weapons-related charge, awoke in his bunk at the Metropolitan Transition Center around 2:30 a.m.

“My skin was peeling off and I didn’t know what was going on,” he said.

Burns and blisters covered his face, chest, arms, and back. A medical report by the Johns Hopkins Burn Center also noted four possible stab wounds.

“I could’ve been blind,” the victim said.

He’s still recovering physically, but the psychological wounds run deep.

“I’m still myself but I don’t feel myself,” said the man. “I’m terrified to go to sleep. It’s just I wake up out of my sleep because I’m so scared somebody’s going to harm me.”

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii spent months requesting the incident report from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSCS) starting on June 29, 2021.

On February 25, 2022, DPSCS sent a redacted copy of the investigative findings.

Forty of the 60 pages in the document are completely blacked out while the other 20 pages detail how DPSCS investigated this incident.

The night of the attack, Detective Moore and Captain Emmanuel reviewed surveillance video depicting three detainees assaulting the victim.

One removes a bowl from the microwave. They cover their heads with towels. Then two suspects approach from the right and the third from the left.

The victim told Detective Moore he didn’t see any of his attackers and didn’t know why they attacked him.

An hour later, the three suspects are interviewed. They claimed to have been asleep in their bunks and didn’t hear or see anything.

Detective Moore then files a serious incident report.

On June 22, the victim is interviewed again.

Then nothing for nearly four months.

During that gap in the investigation, WMAR-2 News sent several public records requests.

Then on October 6, the case is assigned to Detective Sergeant David Marquette after Detective Moore resigned.

On November 3, Detective Marquette reviews the serious incident report. He then requests the videos referenced in the report from the records department, but instead, he's given cellphone recordings of the institution’s surveillance video. He notes the video quality is poor and there are no distinguishing features.

On November 29, Detective Marquette emails Captain Dipo Akintomide requesting additional information and a good contact number to reach him.

Detective Marquette again attempts to contact Capt. Akintomide on December 10 and 28.

On January 11, the Detective emails the Warden and Security Chief requesting that they order the Captain to contact him.

On January 18, Capt. Akintomide confirms he reviewed surveillance video and identified the three suspects solely by the corresponding bunk, where the suspects changed some clothing following the assault.

The Detective then notes that no attempt was made to collect clothing discarded at or near the bunks where the suspects changed, no weapons were recovered, and the Captain did not retain or record the video footage showing the suspects changing at the bunks, which was used to identify them.

According to the investigative findings, none of the three suspects had any injuries commonly found with an assault, burns, lacerations to hands, bruising, etc.

No further action was taken during the investigation.

Detective Marquette concluded that probable cause had not been established to identify or charge any suspects in this case.

“I remember that I couldn’t brush my teeth for almost a month. I couldn’t take a shower for almost a month,” the victim recalled. “I didn’t go to jail looking like this and for me to come home looking like this, it hurt my mom really bad, and it hurt me. It broke a piece of me,” he said.

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Robert L. Green declined our request for an interview. Instead, a spokeswoman sent this statement.

“In every case of alleged assault, DPSCS detectives quickly and thoroughly investigate, with the intention of placing criminal charges against the perpetrators. On some occasions, despite rigorous effort, there is insufficient conclusive evidence to prosecute.”
- Lt. Latoya Gray, Media Relations Coordinator, Communications,Transformation & Engagement, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

WMAR-2 News sent a list of follow-up questions asking about the original video, protocols, gaps in the investigations, and the captain’s slow response.

A spokeswoman responded:

“The department does not have any further comment.”

“What we don’t understand is why DPSCS would not retain the footage showing the actions of the attackers of this victim,” said Joshua Hatch, owner of Freedom Fighters LLC, an organization helping incarcerated individuals re-enter society and member of the Caucus of African American Leaders Public Safety Committee.

Hatch isn’t advocating for charges for every infraction, but he believes there needs to be a better show of authority.

“You send the message, the wrong message to individuals who are housed there that they’re not safe, that this can happen to you too, and oh, by the way, we’re not going to properly investigate,” said Hatch.

The suspects were issued infraction notices and recommended to be transferred to a different institution.

Hatch doesn’t think moving people or removing the microwave are appropriate solutions to this problem.

“On the surface, it looks like the microwave is the culprit, right? But that’s a patch over the real problem. The problem is the staff,” said Hatch. “Look at the report. Look at how your officers failed to perform their duty, accept that, grow from that, do what’s necessary to improve the level of service that you are providing to the community by making institutions safe and secure.”

WMAR-2 News also requested information on how many times this style of attack has occurred.

Once again, DPSCS denied the request stating the information is kept in individual case records and under public record laws, the custodian isn’t required to create or compile a new record.

An agency spokeswoman also confirmed the Department doesn’t separately track the number of assaults requiring hospitalization.