|Updated: 7/26/2012 8:40 pm
||Published: 7/26/2012 6:59 pm
Several inmates have been beaten in separate incidents inside the Muskogee County Jail this summer, and now some of them are saying it's the jail's fault.
One man had his back broken, and another is now mostly blind because of his injuries.
The victims of these beatings say the guards at the jail did not do enough to prevent the beatings, stop them soon enough once they started, or get them medical help after the fact.
The victims and their families that FOX23 News talked to did not deny that they had committed crimes that landed them in the jail in the first place. But they say the guards should be doing more to keep those inside the jail safe.
Eddie Dyer was booked into the jail in early June on a charge of "knowingly concealing stolen property." Shortly after a man he had a prior dispute with spread rumors that he was a snitch.
On June 18th two gang members attacked him during "yard time."
"[After the first punch] I stepped back several paces. They started coming at me," Dyer said. "I swung one time. Then they both jumped me, and I don't remember what happened after that."
The beating lasted several minutes, and included kicks to his face. Most of the bones in his face were broken.
He almost died on the way to a Tulsa hospital, then spent six days in a coma while surgeons rebuilt his face.
But he says his real concern is that others who witnessed the beating say the guards at the jail were in no rush to help him.
"They said it was a period of 25 to 30 minutes before anybody ever came out there to help me," he said.
Dyer's mother, Elizabeth Hendricks was horrified when she heard what happened.
"Any mother that sees her son in this kind of condition, she would have passed out or fought," Hendricks said. "And I'm fighting mad!"
Hendricks says the jail completely mishandled her son's and several other violent situations, and says some serious changes are needed at the facility.
"There's too many people getting hurt," she said.
"I know that my son is not the only one that has been beaten up in there."
Cindy O'Keefe's son, Tommy Duncan, is one of those other people who was beaten in the jail. Duncan suffered multiple breaks in his arm and several broken bones in his face. He is now facing the reality of permanent vision loss in one of his eyes.
"He had been pulled off the top bunk and stomped numerous times," O'Keefe said.
Lt. George Roberson is an administrator at the jail, and said Dyer is a career criminal who isn't giving the whole story. He says the jail workers did their jobs.
"Soon as he seen (sic) what happened, they made a security call to the yard, corrections went out, everybody was locked down, we brought him in," Roberson said.
"They followed the policy and procedures and did what they were supposed to do."
Roberson says a $500,000 state of the art surveillance camera system was installed in the jail this year, and it shows proof of what really happened the day of Dyer's beating. With the threat of lawsuits, the county's attorneys will not allow him to release the video.
But Roberson says the video shows Dyer was the one who instigated the fight.
While there has been corruption at the jail in the past, including some jailers being charged with crimes, Roberson said the old jail administration was removed in October, 2011. He says when he and his boss took over in their place they started instituting a lot of changes to make sure the guards are held accountable.
"I told the staff everything's going to be done by policy and procedure," he said. "If you don't like it, you may want to go find somewhere else to work."
The two men who attacked Dyer are being charged for their roles in the beating. Reports from Duncan's beating have been handed over to the Muskogee County District Attorney to decide of charges will be filed.
The Muskogee County Jail holds 282 inmates, and Roberson says it's important to remember that most of them are criminals, some of them are gang members, and many of them have violent tendencies. He said the jailers do their best to keep inmates with disputes separated, but there's not always enough space to keep them too far apart. Unfortunately, he said, fights do happen in jails. But he also swore that the jailers do all they can to keep the inmates safe.
Both Dyer and Duncan were in the jail on charges relating to burglary. Both men and their families are considering filing lawsuits against the jail.
In May a Muskogee County jailer pleaded guilty to pepper spraying an inmate who was restrained, and then trying to cover it up.
Last week an inmate was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for conspiring with a jailer to allow him to beat up another inmate.