Inmate files federal lawsuit in 2004 beating

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The Associated Press

February 27, 2007

SOMERS, CONN. — An inmate filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against state prison officials, claiming he was severely beaten by guards for complaining about excessive force used on others.

Robert Joslyn, 31, was beaten March 9, 2004, after Correction Department officials said he broke a sprinkler head and flooded his cell at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers.

In his lawsuit, Joslyn claimed he was beaten the day after he told Brian Murphy, the deputy commissioner of the Correction Department, that guards would routinely announce a false "code blue" to suggest that inmates were fighting and needed to be separated. The lawsuit alleged that guards began to threaten Joslyn repeatedly after he lodged the complaint.

"Robert Joslyn became afraid for his life," his attorney Antonio Ponvert said in a statement. "To protect himself from being slammed against hard objects, he finally resorted to padding his cell using his mattress and a towel. He finally recognized that he had to get himself moved to a safer part of the prison so he broke a sprinkler head in the cell, causing water to flow into the cell."

The beating, which was videotaped according to department protocol, sent Joslyn to the emergency room at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. The department's internal report said he suffered head trauma from multiple blows, had several lumps on his head and three or four lacerations around the bridge of his nose.

Correction Officer Patrick Maia was fired after an internal report concluded he used excessive force in the incident, but he was reinstated a year later as a result of a grievance settlement.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, is against Murphy, prison guard Capt. Matthew Regan and 14 prison guards.

Joslyn was sent to prison in 1992 for burglary and amassed 92 inmate disciplinary reports on his record, the Correction Department report says. He has been convicted of attempted assault of a prison guard and of slashing another guard's arm with a razor. He is currently in a halfway house in Montville, according the department Web site.

Department of Correction spokesman Brian Garnett, citing policy, said he cannot comment on pending litigation.