The family of an inmate left severely brain-damaged after a prison beating in November says a correctional officer was complicit in the assault. This week, they filed a notice seeking $12 million to settle their claims against Arizona’s Department of Corrections.
Tyson White, 37, arrived Nov. 18 at the Lewis state prison in Buckeye. Eight days later, he was assaulted by three inmates who threw him to the ground and repeatedly kicked and stomped on his head and neck.
The three were members of a prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood, according to Corrections reports obtained by the family’s attorney, Scott Zwillinger, through a lawsuit against the department.
White apparently had sought the gang’s protection, claiming affiliation with the gang during a prior prison stint. According to department reports, the gang members asked an inmate who served as a “porter,” or clerk, for Corrections Officer Doreen Neu to check White’s claims.
According to Corrections investigators, Neu accessed White’s computer records on Nov. 22, which showed that he was not affiliated with any prison gangs. Four days later, White was assaulted by the gang.
Corrections officials declined to comment on the allegations or to say whether Neu received any disciplinary sanctions. In their report, Corrections investigators note allegations that Neu’s porter regularly supplied information from confidential state records to other inmates. It would be a criminal offense for Neu to allow any inmate to view another inmate’s records. Neu could not be reached for comment.
White has been in treatment at St. Joseph’s Hospital since the assault, with permanent brain damage that leaves him unable to walk, use the bathroom or take care of basic needs without assistance. He was serving a two-year sentence for aggravated DUI.
The attack on White was one of 62 inmate-on-inmate assaults reported by Corrections that month. There were 34 incidents of inmates assaulting staff in November.