Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

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Living conditions on Death Row

Excessive Use of Force

Statement by Nanon Williams #999163

01-24-97, Texas Death Row

I, Nanon Williams, am a Death Row prisoner, incarcerated at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas.
Monday, December 9, 1996, while I was sitting in my cell on J-21, three row twenty cell, officer Laningham was antagonizing an inmate on one row for no apparent reason. Officers like to harass this particular inmate as he is easily provoked. Another inmate, Eddie Johnson, ask Laningham to get a Sergeant. Johnson wanted to speak to a Sergeant regarding officer Laningham harassing this fellow inmate. Leningham responded to Johnson with the statement:
"Fuck You Bitch." At that time all of the inmates on J-21 repeatedly screamed for a Sergeant to come take care of the situation, but no Sergeant appeared to resole the matter.

Shortly after the incident above, an inmate SSI porter working J-21 passed by my cell, sweeping the trash off the run. I stopped the porter and asked him to take a radio to another inmate in which he did. Unknown to me this porter told the guards I was packing my property and intended to harm Laningham. About fifteen minutes passed and it was close to 9:00pm and officers came to my cell telling me I had a phone call. I had not requested a phone call so I refused to go. The officers came back later and asked me if I was sure I didn't want the call.
Many thoughts came into my head. I felt it might be a trick (tactic used to get prisoners out of their cell) but I also thought it might be bad news regarding a family member, so I decided to go make the call.

When I got to the segregation office, Sergeant Page told me to sit down. I asked him about the phone call, but he told me there wasn't any call, and he would like to know why I was packing my property. I told Sergeant Page I wasn't packing my property and asked him what it was he wanted. Sergeant Page said he just got an I-60 (Sgt. Page lied about the I-60, it was actually the porter who whispered in his ear) stating I was going to cause an officer harm and that was why I was packing my property. I told Sergeant Page: "I'm not packing my property" and to take me back to my cell, but he continued asking me questions, but I refused to answer.

Tuesday, December 10, 1996, I was scheduled to see the Unit Classification Committee regarding an alleged fight between myself and another inmate. This was over a disciplinary case in which I won at court. Warden Parker, Warden Staples and other ranking officials asked me about the incident. I explained this situation to the Classification Committee and they questioned me further. The committee made sarcastic remarks as if it was a joke, so I asked to be taken back to my cell. Before taking me back they questioned me about the incident the night before concerning Sergeant Page, packing my property and having intentions of harming another person.
I had nothing to say as it was a lie. They were just looking for an excuse to punish me for something. Finally I was returned to my cell.

A few hours later the same day, December 10, 1996, an officer told me I was being moved to a management cell. A management cell has a steel door that totally encloses an inmate in a cell, sealing him in taking away all view to the outside of the cell. A management cell is used for inmates who receive many disciplinary cases, or in this case, simply a cell for the prison administration to exercise their authority over a prisoner. I asked the officer if I had a disciplinary case that warranted me being placed in a management cell. The officer said he didn't know.
I asked to speak to a Sergeant, but none appeared. About an hour later, Lt. est asked me if I was refusing to move. I stated I would like to have a reason from him why I was to be punished for no apparent reason. Lt. est said there wasn't any. Wardens and several ranking officers, Majors and Captains could not and would not give me a reason for the move so I refused to be moved to a punishment cell because I had not done anything. Captain S. West told me I knew why, but I asked him to please explain it to me. He did not.

Warden Parker and Warden Staples came to my cell and asked me if I was refusing to come out of my cell. I told him no, but I asked if I could just have a reason. Warden Parker said I wasn't going to a management cell, but to solitary confinement. We were talking calmly and Warden Parker asked me if I was coming out when at the same time he pulled out a can of mace and sprayed me in my eyes and mouth. I could not breathe and it felt like I was going to die.
My eyes felt like they were on fire and Warden Parker kept spraying me, over, and over, and over, and over again until my cell and I were consumed with gas. I was unable to move and I started losing consciousness.

I forgot where I was, but after a while I realized what was happening. I tried to stand, but I couldn't, but in my efforts to do so, Warden Parker began spraying me with gas again. It seemed that hours had passed, but later I was told it only lasted for forty-fie minutes to an hour.
I thought I was surely dying because my breathing seemed to stop. My cell door rolled open and I tried to move towards the door to get out of the gas filled cell, but all I felt was punches being thrown at my head. I was wrestled to the ground and I felt the guards handcuff my hands behind my back and shackle my legs. The officers kept yelling: "Quit resisting," but I was not resisting because I was already handcuffed and shackled. I felt pain coming from my side from being kicked and many fist pounding my head. The guards continued to yell for me not to resist, but I couldn't even move. An officer grabbed my hair and banged my head on the concrete floor until I was unconscious. I woke feeling myself being carried. I asked them to allow me to walk, but walking was out of the question as I couldn't see anything because it felt as if my eyes were being out. The officers picked me back up and proceeded to carry me down the stairs and they dropped me head first (standard practice) while I was handcuffed and shackled. I remember being put on a stretcher, but I felt I had stopped breathing. I woke with someone opening my eyes while squirting something in them, but it did no good.

I was rolled to solitary confinement on a stretcher. I was pulled to my feet and pushed into the shower. The water was scolding hot so I jumped back. I was still handcuffed and shackled with all my clothes on, but I was forced in the water. Someone finally realized the water was too hot and turned the cold on. The water ran over my face and clothes for a couple of minutes and I was taken out of the shower. While still in my clothes and soak and wet, officers placed me in a solitary confinement cell. Officers sat on my back and removed the handcuffs and shackles. Later, some officer came and took pictures of me after telling me to remove my clothes. I still could not see. Sitting in the cell was very cold. I was given no dry clothes, towel, blanket, sheet, mattress or anything else.

Guards soon brought another inmate, Emerson Rudd, from the same wing I was on and placed him in solitary confinement. He too had been gassed and beaten. We both sat in our cold cells with the cold air for over forty-eight hours without anything to keep us warm.

When I was placed in the shower in cuffs and in my clothes, with no opportunity to scrub myself with soap or anything, the water made the gas spread over my body. After 48 hours my skin felt completely numb. Still after 48 hours I could only see if I forced my eyes open, but the pain was unbearable. While sitting in the cell I felt a wet teardrop run down my face and when I wiped it off I discovered It was blood. Blood came in teardrops whenever I started to blink my left eye, so I just sat on the steel bunk with my eyes closed.

After the 48 hours I was allowed to shower and my property was brought to me. I looked in the mirror and my right eye was blood shot red. My left eye was completely covered with blood. My vision was coming back at that time in my right eye, but not my left. The right side of my face by my eye was bruised badly and all the skin was peeling off my face. I was seen by a nurse, but not a doctor. She said a blood vessel broke in my eye, but I also had a small cut. I was never at any time given treatment or medication as a result of this incident until Friday, January 10, 1997.
I was finally given some artificial tears, but by then the redness pretty much had disappeared. Officers kept giving me disciplinary case for "refusing to groom" as an excuse to keep me in solitary until I healed. I wasn't allowed a visit for twenty-one days and was finally released Thursday, January 16, 1997. I was released from solitary and moved to a management cell on J- 21. As extra punishment I have been placed on property, commissary and cell restriction for many months to come. I requested to see a doctor, but am only seen by a nurse. The vision in my right eye has returned, but my left eye is still pretty bad. I cannot focus it.
I later found out that the officers who beat me were officers Michael Montgomery; John Laningham Jr.; Marcus Mallot; Cerritos (sp); and one more yet to be identified. I thought I was going to die as I was repeatedly gassed and beaten while handcuffed and shackled. Warden Parker and Warden Staples were laughing saying : "Look how he can take it," referring to the gas.

These people are insane, committing insane acts and need to be stopped. Please help so this can never happen to anyone again.

Nanon Williams #999163
Ellis # 1 Unit
Huntsville, Texas 77343