location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 3 / Chapter 5 The Disciplinary Process -- 1997-8 / June 1998: The Biega Case

Officer Hobson wrote in his report:

Inmate Biega refused to bend over despite several direct orders to do so. When COI Spenser approached him to have him bend over he began to resist. He was taken to the floor and handcuffs and leg irons were applied. A white balloon believed to contain drugs was removed from his butt cheeks by COI Savant. (Officer's Observation Report, May 24, 1998)

Officer Ramsey wrote:

Officer Savant gave several direct orders to Inmate Biega to bend over. Inmate Biega refused and was told that the officers present would make him comply to their lawful order. When Biega resisted he was taken down to the floor (with minimum force) and cuffed. A small plastic package came from his buttocks. (Officer's Observation Report, May 24, 1998)

The last officer who participated in the search, Officer Spenser, wrote in his report:

I observed Inmate Biega attempt to place his hands down his pants. I ordered him to stop. He complied. I contacted the correctional supervisor and informed her that I would be conducting a strip search. At 18:45 hours Inmate Biega was removed to the upper common area and ordered to remove his clothes. He complied. CO-I Savant gave several direct orders to Biega to bend over. Inmate Biega refused and was informed that he would comply or we would assist him. He refused. I placed my hands on his arm to gain compliance, Inmate Biega resisted. He was placed on the floor under control and with a minimum of force. He continued to resist. Mechanical restraints were applied. CO-I Savant removed a small rubber package from Inmate Biega's buttocks.

Officer Rawl, although not a participant in the strip search, observed what happened from his position in the control post. He wrote in his observation report:

This officer witnessed J unit staff remove Inmate Biega from dry cell and instruct him to strip for search. He complied until instructed to bend over to which he refused. At least four direct orders were given to Inmate Biega which were refused as well. Minimum force was then used to cuff and leg iron Inmate Biega. At this time a small plastic bag was found by CO-I Savant in Inmate Biega's crotch area. (Officer's Observation Report, May 24, 1998)

In summation, the officers' accounts were of Mr. Biega being ordered to bend over on "several" occasions which, in one report, is stated to be "at least four" and in another "probably close to ten;" following which Mr. Biega resisted and "was taken to the floor," and in another version "was placed on the floor." The plastic balloon containing the marijuana was then, again depending on the report, "seen sitting on Mr. Biega's butt cheeks," "removed from the Inmate's buttock's area," "removed from his butt cheeks," "came from his buttocks" or "was found in his crotch area." At all times, according to the reports, minimum force was used.

In an interview with me, Mr. Biega gave quite a different version of these events.

On May 24, after visits, three or four guards approached me, saying that they observed me doing something wrong on the video camera in V and C and that I'll be going to the dry cell. So I got strip-searched leaving the visits. They found no drugs, nothing on me. They took me to segregation. They strip-searched me there again. They found no drugs on me. They put me in a dry cell.

About 3-4 hours later, roughly, I don't know exactly, they told me to step out once more out of the cell and into the hallway to the common area and told me to strip down again. So I did. Then one or two officers approached me and told me to bend over and spread my ass. I told them, "you show me in the Rules and Regulation book that I have to bend over and spread my ass, I'll do it. Otherwise I ain't doing it." As soon as I finished saying that, I don't know how many, about 6-7 officers jumped me. Two of them grabbed me by the arms. One got me in the headlock, tried to force me to bend over. I didn't see the other officers, who it was, but they forced me down to the ground and my head hit the ground. One officer had his knee on my head. Another officer was twisting my arm backwards, almost ripped my god-damn shoulder off. I was screaming and telling them that my shoulder was fucking hurting. Then I felt two other officers spread my legs apart and then one officer stuck his fingers between my ass cheeks and pulled out a small marijuana bag. Then I was cuffed and shackled, naked, put back in the dry cell for about 15-20 minutes. And then they asked me if I wanted to see a medical nurse, which I refused because I was so fucking embarrassed already. I was sitting there naked. Then about 1/2 an hour later they came in and they took the cuffs off me and the shackles, right. Then the next morning I was released and that was it. And then I went straight to Ralph Moore, he's on the Inmate Committee, and I told him about the incident. Then he went and grabbed the camera and took the picture of my ass. You can see there are some scratch marks. I requested to see the nurse, first thing, about 10:30 in the morning. That was Monday. And I didn't get to see the nurse until about 7 o'clock at night. And then the next Wednesday I got to see the doctor. He gave me some muscle relaxants for my injured shoulder and a sling for one week and he told me to see him next week. And that was it . . .

The reason I asked for them to show me the Rules and Regulations that I've got to bend over and spread my ass was because I didn't think they had the right to do that. I mean they didn't ask me to bend over when I left the visits and they didn't ask me when they told me to strip in segregation before they put me in the dry cell, so how come now they're telling me to bend over and spread them. (Interview with Mark Biega, Kent Institution, June 2, 1998)

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