Watch inmates pace the prison floor with shanks during deadly SC riot
After the death of seven inmates at Lee Correctional Institution during a gang-related riot, two more lawsuits -- including one suing for wrongful death -- have been filed against the S.C. Department of Corrections, according to Lee County court records.
A relative of Eddie Gaskins, a 32-year-old man incarcerated at Lee on domestic violence charges, sued the department for wrongful death on behalf of his estate, which is going to his four children.
Gaskins died at Lee April 15 after being stabbed multiple times and bleeding to death. In the law suit, filed Thursday, his family said Gaskins was "severely injured, suffered needlessly and died."
A second lawsuit, filed Tuesday on behalf Lee inmate Randy Mast, said the inmate was stabbed multiple times during the riot after the one guard in the unit left the building.
Mast and other inmates barricaded themselves in a cell to escape violent prisoners who were moving from unlocked door to unlocked door stabbing fellow inmates, according to the suit. "God is on your side today," one of the inmates wielding homemade knifes, shanks and axes said.
When Mast was left alone, he was stabbed 14 times in the head, side, arms, wrists and hands, according to the suit. His skull was fractured with one of the homemade weapons.
Despite his injuries, Mast was able to make it to the dorm exit door, where he was handcuffed and taken for treatment. According to the lawsuit, he was in the intensive care unit for four days.
Mast was sent to Lee Correctional in December 2017 on meth, burglary, accomplice and theft charges and now resides in Broad River Correctional Institution.
Both lawsuits allege employees at Lee Correctional knew about gang tensions in the prison and knew many of the men were armed, according to the lawsuits. Gaskin's family's suit said the Department of Corrections made this worse by transferring "several hundred competing gang members" to Lee shortly before the riot.
This accusation is far from new. Earlier this month, three inmates filed separate lawsuits against the Department of Corrections for gross negligence.
Robert Jackson, 30, said two masked men burst into his cell and stabbed him multiple times. Jadarius Roberts claimed he was stabbed at least 20 times. Reakwon Watson, 21, said he was "forced to bleed and suffer for several hours" after his stabbing.
All inmates have contibuted the conditions at Lee which lead up to the riot to understaffing and poor conditions. All said none of the doors in their unit locked, something the head of the department Bryan Stirling admitted.
Stirling also said contraband cellphones were to blame for the riot, but Gaskin's family said in their lawsuit that Department of Corrections officials were "purposely lenient in conducting contraband searches," including looking for cell phones and illegal drugs. The lawsuit said this was to "pacify the inmates."