Photo: Eric King in a four-point restraint (Source: Government Case File)
By David Martinez
In 2018, Eric King, a political prisoner from the Ferguson Uprisings for Black lives, was assaulted and tortured by prison guards, who put him in a four-point restraint, splayed-out for five hours, while interrogating him. It was reported last week that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) destroyed some video evidence of the torture while accusing King of assaulting a federal officer during the incident, a charge which could increase King’s sentence by 20 years. King has been held in solitary confinement since the time of the torture and is currently incarcerated in a maximum security facility in the Englewood Federal Correctional Institution outside of Denver, Colorado.
King has been serving a ten-year sentence for his support of the Ferguson Uprisings, sparked by the police murder of Mike Brown. As part of a plea agreement, King pleaded guilty to throwing a molotov cocktail at the empty offices of a local politician. Throughout his sentence, the reactionary prison guards have targeted King for his anti-fascist and anti-racist politics, at times colluding with white supremacist prisoners to stage attacks on him.
Slated to be released from prison in 2023, King now faces heightened charges that could keep him imprisoned for two more decades. According to King’s lawyers, who are part of the legal nonprofit Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), prison guards assaulted King in 2018 soon after he sent an email to his wife in which King commented on the recent assault of a prison guard.
A lawsuit filed on King’s behalf states that Lieutenant Donald Wilcox and Officer Jefferey Kammrad took King into a small cleaning supplies room to “interview” him about the email. Wilcox told Kammrad to leave, then proceeded to curse at King, called him a “terrorist,” and punched him twice in the face. It was during this time that the guards claim King assaulted him, while King’s lawyers said he was forced to admit under torture to hitting back in self-defense.
After the initial assault, the guards put King into a four-point restraint device, tying down his arms and legs for five hours. During this torture, Wilcox covered King’s mouth so that he was unable to breathe at various points. Guards cut King’s clothes off of him, leaving him only in his boxers in a pool of his own blood and urine.
King’s lawyers assert that the BOP deleted at least two hours of footage while King was in restraints. Additionally, they uncovered that a nurse and lieutenant lied to the FBI, claiming that they did not interact with King while he was being tortured. His lawyers have filed motions to suppress evidence regarding statements Eric made after the incident. Through the acts of torture, guards coerced Eric into signing a statement that he hit back against the guard in self-defense.
King’s assailant, Lieutenant Wilcox, is part of the BOP’s Special Investigative Services, which operates across the country’s federal prisons to investigate inmates whom the BOP accuses of being threats. King wrote that Wilcox threatened, “all sorts of vigilante justice to have me raped and killed. […] He made this gurgling noise and spit on me and shoved me and began to attack me.”
“He was a week away from being sent to a low-security facility. […] He had exemplary conduct,” King’s lawyer, Lauren Regan, told monopoly media outlet Vice. “He was seeing his family every week. In terms of doing your time, he was in a really good place at the time that this occurred.”
King will have an evidentiary hearing on October 14 for the court to hear his lawyers’ motion to suppress. The Civil Liberties Defense Center has asked for support during this time, and encourages those able to attend the hearing in Denver to show up in support of King to prove that he is not alone in his struggle against the reactionary State.
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