After being handcuffed, inmate was still beaten, lawyer says

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When Gary W. Barbour Jr. tried to escape from the Allegheny County Jail last year, he was caught and beaten by guards before and after he was handcuffed, an attorney representing the inmate said Thursday.

Mr. Barbour's treatment after his escape attempt is one of the subjects of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of the lockup.

Statements Thursday by attorney Ronald D. Barber are the first accounts of the incident to emerge, beyond the initial Allegheny County police report that described Mr. Barbour as "injured and bleeding" to the extent that he required hospitalization.

Mr. Barbour, 29, of Mount Pleasant in Washington County, sneaked into the duct system on April 6, 2010, the county police reported.

Mr. Barber said his client suffered a "cut on one hand from the escape attempt" but sustained much more serious injuries when he emerged from the duct system to encounter the jail's special response team.

"He did not do anything provocative beyond the fact that he had attempted to escape from the jail," Mr. Barber said. "He was severely beaten," he continued. "Both before and after he was handcuffed.

"The legal standard [for defining a constitutional violation] has to do with what force is excessive under the circumstances," he said. "You would certainly think that [someone being cuffed] would impact the behavior of the guards."

Mr. Barbour's father said his son told him that when he came out of the ductwork he "immediately went down, he got on his knees and put his hands up, and they started beating him." Gary W. Barbour Sr., a real estate agent, said the jail personnel involved in the incident included high-ranking officials.

Mr. Barber said he knows "most of the names of the people involved" but would not yet provide them. He said they would likely be named in a federal civil rights lawsuit he intends to file within weeks.

The county police report indicated that Mr. Barbour was taken to the jail's infirmary, then to Mercy Hospital, before being returned to the jail within hours.

His injuries, according to Mr. Barber: "Broken nose. Swollen face. Deviated septum and injuries to his arms and wrists."

The elder Mr. Barbour said he saw his son a few days after the incident, at a court hearing. "His face looked like hamburger," he said.

He said his son is a nonviolent, highly intelligent young man whose life has been sidetracked by addiction.

The father said he contacted the FBI. He said his son had not appeared before a federal grand jury that is believed to be looking into the jail.

A county spokeswoman declined comment, due to "impending litigation." The jail's new acting warden, Trevor Wingard, said he had no knowledge of the event and has not been contacted by the FBI. An FBI spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Initially arrested on March 31, 2010, for drug possession, Mr. Barbour is now at the State Correctional Institution Huntingdon, serving a sentence of 15 months to 30 months for the escape attempt.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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