BRISTOL, Va. - Prison guards ignored an inmate's concerns that a prison gang was out to kill him and then let his cries for help go unanswered as he was beaten to death in his cell, the inmate's mother claims in a lawsuit against the state and prison officials.
The lawsuit, filed last month in Hampton, claims guards at Red Onion State Prison didn't respond to Kawaski Bass' pleas for help. It also says the state failed to adequately train or supervise employees responsible for maintaining safety within the housing unit where Bass was attacked.
Bass, 32, was severely beaten in his cell on Sept. 6, 2011. He was pronounced dead hours later after a 200-mile ride from the prison in Pound to a Roanoke hospital.
He was "heard by other inmates within the housing unit screaming for assistance for several minutes and none of the corrections officers . responded to his pleas for help," reads the lawsuit, filed by Richmond attorney Horace F. Hunter.
Virginia State Police have not charged Bass' cellmate, John Keyvann Watson, 32. Bass has claimed he beat Bass because he was defending against a sexual assault.
Virginia Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor the Bristol Herald- Courier ( http://bit.ly/NXQfw5) that it is department policy not to comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit claims Bass told prison guards that members of the Bloods prison gang had indicated they planned to kill him. It says Bass was placed in a cell with Watson, who was a known associate of the Bloods.
Watson is serving 103 years for two counts of second-degree murder. Bass was serving a 65-year sentence for robbery, carjacking, assault and other charges.
The mother of another inmate, Aaron Cooper, also has given notice that she plans to sue the state and Red Onion officials over the death of her son at the prison in 2010.
Cooper was strangled to death by inmate Robert Gleason through a separate cage on the outdoor recreation yard. Gleason already had killed another inmate and vowed to continue killing unless he was given the death penalty.
Cooper's mother gave notice that she may file a civil lawsuit because the prison "failed to properly segregate and monitor violent and dangerous criminals."
Gleason was sentenced to death in September.
Information from: Bristol Herald Courier, http://www.bristolnews.com
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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