AP NEWS

Video shows brutality of knife attack on helpless inmates

January 25, 2019
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In this screenshot taken from a Southern Ohio Correction Facility security camera video four inmates, handcuffed to a table, are attacked by a fellow prisoner who slipped his handcuffs and brandished a knife, Sunday, June 4, 2017, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. (Southern Ohio Correction Facility via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A newly released video shows the brutality of an Ohio inmate’s knife attack on four other prisoners who were handcuffed to a table and unable to defend themselves.

The video obtained by The Associated Press reveals for the first time the extent of the victims’ injuries and raises questions about how the bloody attack happened inside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, one of Ohio’s most secure prisons. Additional security concerns were raised months later when the same prisoner was allegedly involved in a knife attack that left a guard severely injured and hospitalized for months.

Shamieke Pugh was one of the four inmates in the first attack on June 4, 2017.

“He was trying to kill us, for sure,” said Pugh, who is now out of prison and recovering from multiple stab wounds in his arm, chest and back. The four prisoners were playing cards during an out-of-cell recreation period.

Pugh, 28, believes guards set up the attack, something the prison system, the guards’ union and the prosecutor who brought charges against the attacker strongly deny.

Consistent national data on inmate-on-inmate assaults is difficult to come by, but prisons can be dangerous places, with one in five inmates reporting attacks. In Ohio, a 2016 legislative prison inspection committee found that the Lucasville prison has traditionally had high assault statistics in part because of gang-affiliated prisoners.

In the video, inmate Greg Reinke, the alleged attacker, is seen stabbing Pugh and three other prisoners multiple times during the assault that could have been even worse had one of the victims not freed himself and fought back. Reinke hid two homemade knives on himself and used one of them — a 7-inch shank — in the assault.

Just under a minute passes before the first guard appears at the end of a long hallway and charges toward the attacker in the video obtained by the AP through an open records request. More than three minutes pass before guards free the last of the inmates from their cuffs chained to a blood-drenched table.

Reinke “stated that he just felt like killing someone,” according to a prison report after the attack.

The following day, authorities declined to prosecute Reinke, arguing that he was already serving a life sentence. Reinke was convicted of aggravated murder in a 2004 shooting in Cleveland.

Then, just over eight months later on Feb. 20, Reinke and a second inmate were accused of assaulting guard Matthew Matthias in the prison infirmary. Mathias suffered 32 stab wounds and numerous internal injuries in that attack and has still not returned to work.

Newly elected Scioto County prosecutor Shane Tieman changed course and charged Reinke with both prison attacks. Reinke has pleaded not guilty.

Tieman called the video “quite disturbing” and said he was bothered by the delay in the guards’ response. But Tieman said he wasn’t going to second-guess the actions of the guards that day. He also saw no evidence of a setup.

The point of bringing charges against Reinke was to send a message that such crimes won’t be tolerated, and hopefully to draw attention to security issues in the prisons. The inmates who were stabbed, though offenders themselves, deserve justice, Tieman said.

“These victims deserve their day in court too,” Tieman said. “To say, ‘This was done to me,’ and for us to stand up and say, ‘It is not right, what was done to these victims.’”

Authorities haven’t determined a motive for the attack on the prisoners, and Tieman said there was no evidence of a racial element. Reinke is white and the four inmates are black. Reinke’s attorney declined comment on the video.

Prison officials won’t say how Reinke slipped his cuffs and how he was able to smuggle two shanks out of his cell. The delay in freeing the inmates after the attack happened because their restraints “became entangled when inmates were moving around during the attack,” prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

Lucasville ended the practice of shackling multiple inmates seated at a table after the incident, according to the union that represents Ohio’s prison guards. The union reached an agreement with the Lucasville prison in April requiring increased security requirements for moving dangerous inmates.

The union continues to talk with officials about improving security. But no system can prevent opportunities for violence, said Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.

“There’s no such thing as an inmate being locked in a cell, no matter what the security status is, for 24 hours, seven days a week,” he said. “That’s not what we do.”

No guards involved in the incident were disciplined.

Reinke, 38, is now housed in the state’s supermax, high-security prison in Youngstown.

The other inmate involved in the attack on the guard, Casey Pigge, was also transferred to Youngstown.

Pigge is a three-time convicted killer who had boasted about strangling a fellow inmate on a prison van while they were being transported. He also is serving time for killing a cellmate with a brick in 2016 and killing his girlfriend’s mother in 2008.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.