Alabama Correctional Officers Respond to Mental Health Crisis With Deadly Force, Leaving at least Four Men Injured, Two in Critical Condition
January 31, 2021
On the morning of January 30, 2021, Mr. Ephan Moore, a man known to have a serious mental illness who is incarcerated at Donaldson Correctional Facility, experienced a mental health crisis resulting in an incident with Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) staff that correctional officers responded to with deadly and brutal force.
One of the witnesses to Moore’s beating described seeing him being struck in the head by a Sgt. Brown with an “ax-like” object that split Moore from the top of his skull all the way down his face. Moore, who was immediately rendered unconscious by the vicious blow, was then beaten and stomped by a group of four to five guards, according to the witness. The witness stated that if Moore is still alive it would be a “miracle.”
Robert Earl Council, also known as Kinetik Justice, attempted to intervene and pleaded with the officer to stop beating the unconscious and critically injured Moore. After making the plea and retreating to his cell, Sgt. Melton tracked Council to his cell, struck him in the back of the head, and, along with COs Bryant and Griffin, as well as Sgts. Brown and Joe Binder, beat him for several minutes. He was dragged, unconscious, out of his cell by his feet, leaving a pool of blood, as well as a trail of blood as he was dragged. The aftermath of the brutal assault was captured in a widely circulated video taken from inside the prison.
Exclusive video footage here: https://youtu.be/psKNCMP8KTM
Mr. Council is currently in the Trauma Unit of the University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB), where he was airlifted from William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility. As of 5:30 p.m. CST on Saturday, his condition is listed as stable. The whereabouts of Mr. Moore and his current condition remain unknown at this time and no known family contact has been discovered.
Shortly after Kinetik and Moore were removed from the dorm and Kinetik was airlifted to UAB hospital, a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) group was called to Donaldson Correctional Facility, where at least one other prisoner, Wilbert Smith, was beaten as well. Both the conditions of Ephan Moore and Wilbert Smith are unknown at this time. Derrol Shaw, who shared an assigned cell with Kinetik Justice, was also sprayed with chemical agents and placed into solitary confinement. His condition is also unknown.
Additionally, family members of Kinetik were able to locate him and dispatched immediately to UAB trauma center, where ADOC and UAB staff denied them access to see him. Advocates and organizers in Birmingham have been gathered outside of UAB for hours demanding that the hospital allow Kinetik’s family in to see him.
Multiple attempts to contact Donaldson Correctional Facility by prison abolitionists, concerned citizens, and other advocates in order to demand answers have been rebuffed throughout the day; as of 3:00 p.m. CST on Sunday, advocates were reporting that the guards answering the phones at Donaldson were laughing at them and then hanging up on them. Donaldson prison remains in full lockdown as Sunday evening. The ADOC has not released any details concerning any of the men’s conditions.
More updates, as well as a joint statement by advocacy groups, are expected to come in the following days.