Crime & Courts

He cried for help after being stabbed 8 times in SC prison riot. No one came, he says

Watch inmates pace the prison floor with shanks during deadly SC riot

Cellphone video captures inmates holding shanks on a blood-covered prison floor during the violent riot that left seven inmates dead inside Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, SC on Monday, April 16.
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Cellphone video captures inmates holding shanks on a blood-covered prison floor during the violent riot that left seven inmates dead inside Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, SC on Monday, April 16.

An inmate, who said he was stabbed eight times during the deadly April 15 riot at Lee Correctional Institution, filed a lawsuit claiming he was "forced to bleed and suffer for several hours," before correctional officers intervened.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in a Lee County court, claims the S.C. Department of Corrections was negligent by not providing enough guards to protect prisoners and failing to meet its own standards.

Reakwon Watson, 21, was incarcerated at Lee Correctional in November 2015 after being found guilty of attempted armed robbery and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, according to Department of Corrections records.

In his lawsuit, he said he was in the F-3 Unit at Lee when he was stabbed multiple times in the head, arms, hands and back by 10 to 15 prisoners.

Seven inmates were killed during fights that lasted more than seven hours at Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville, SC.

At the time, the cell doors and the door to each wing of the unit were unlocked, which is against Department of Correction's guidelines, Watson claimed in the lawsuit.

Watson also claimed Lee officials knew about competing gangs in the prison and knew that "a large percentage of the inmate population carried and/or had access to weapons." Understaffing and failure to check cells made conditions even more dangerous, according to the lawsuit.

During the nearly eight-hour-long incident, Watson said he called out to prison staff for help, but no one came to his aid or the aid of other dead or wounded prisoners. Seven inmates died during the riot, and several others were injured.

Correctional officers at Lee Correctional Institution make up to $1,600 less than the national average. Their low pay is tied to high turnover and a high number of vacancies at the institution and throughout South Carolina Department of Corrections.

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