Former Gwinnett Co. inmates file lawsuit over alleged abuse



GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has obtained video that prompted attorneys and former Gwinnett County inmates to file a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office.

The plaintiffs' attorneys say hundreds of inmates may become part of the suit.

Attorney Craig Jones says the figures may easily top 800 or 1,000 inmates who could be involved. In one of the videos, a man is in a holding cell, and an officer can be heard saying that the man is refusing to get off the bench. A moment later, "Three, two, one," is heard, and multiple officers rush in.

The inmate is screaming, and then the sound of a restraint chair being moved across the floor is heard.

The plaintiffs say they are members of Gwinnett's Rapid Response Team.

"See how they are holding his head and all this kind of stuff?" said Jones to Channel 2's Craig Lucie.

After officers barge into another room, an inmate is heard saying, "I haven't resisted or nothing. What are you all doing? What are you all doing? I have not done one. What the?"

"I don't see anything reasonable about what they are doing to these people," said Jones.

His partner on the case said the videos show clear abuse.

"My first thought in my mind is that this is unconscionable," said attorney John Cicala.

Cicala and Jones filed the federal civil lawsuit against Sheriff Butch Conway, Col. Don Pinkard and Lt. Col. Carl Sims. Sims is the commander of the Rapid Response Team.

When Lucie contacted the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Shannon Volkodav sent the following statement:

"Due to pending legal action, I am unable to provide a statement or interview for your story at this time."

Cicala and Jones say that their case is growing.

"What we are going to do is get the truth in this case, and the truth is going to come out in this case," said Cicala.

Lucie obtained the official response that the Sheriff's Office's attorneys filed. It says, "Any force used was justified because plaintiffs initiated and exhibited violent behavior so as to be a danger to themselves or others."

There are more than 200 hours of videos, and Channel 2 Action News is currently reviewing them.

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