Prison guards arrested, alleged assault on handcuffed inmate caught on camera

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Three correctional officers have been arrested for allegedly beating an inmate in his cell at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center in June and then trying to cover up the incident, which was caught on video.

Milton Gibbs, 52, Terrance Bailey, 30, and Shaun Lowe, 26, were charged with felony charges of, aggravated assault, conspiracy, and tampering with public records, as well as, misdemeanor charges of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, unsworn falsification to authorities, and obstructing the administration of law and official oppression.

The guards surrendered to authorities this morning, District Attorney Seth Williams said. 

“We cannot stand for any kind of assault, and this attack on a handcuffed inmate by sworn corrections officers is egregious. Every inmate who is held in our prisons deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” Williams said.

Today’s arrest wasn’t Gibbs’ first brush with trouble. He was fired for assaulting an inmate in 2004 — but ultimately was acquitted in a federal civil-rights case filed against him in that case, according to court records.

The most recent incident started when Gibbs allegedly became agitated on June 21 with inmate Brandon Kulb, 22, and began pounding on his cell door and threatening to “hang him and murder him,” according to the District Attorney’s Office and a federal civil-rights lawsuit Kulb filed against the city, several prison wardens and the correctional officers in September.

After returning to the control desk, Gibbs allegedly called Bailey, and they entered Kulb’s cell and began to repeatedly punch, kick and spit on him, according to the lawsuit and the DA’s Office. They then allegedly handcuffed him, walked him down a staircase and dragged him into the central control room, beating him the entire way. In the control area, Lowe allegedly joined the attack, and the guards stomped on Kulb, who fell unconscious at least twice, according the the DA’s Office.

While surveillance cameras caught much of the assault, some of the violence took place in areas with no cameras, according to the DA’s Office.

Afterward, Gibbs and Bailey submitted a mental health referral, alleging that Kulb intentionally harmed himself, to hide their role in his injuries, according to the DA’s Office. Gibbs then allegedly tried to bribe Kulb not to report the attack by offering him a hamburger, French fries and lemonade from the staff kitchen, according to the DA’s Office and Kulb’s lawsuit.

All three officers allegedly fudged their reports of the incident, writing that only “open hand” controls were used to subdue Kulb, according to the DA’s Office.

The officers were suspended without pay and face termination, pending the outcome of their criminal proceedings. Gibbs has been a correctional officer for 32 years; Bailey, 7 years; and Lowe, just eight months, prisons spokeswoman Shawn Hawes said.

Kulb’s lawsuit accuses the officers of unreasonable use of force, false arrest, assault and battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and accuses the city of a failure to adequately train, investigate and discipline officers.

Kulb remains in state prison on $500,000 bail and faces trial on a 2014 attempted murder case in January, according to court records.

“The alleged actions of the officers involved in this investigation are inexcusable and not representative of the dedicated professional officers who work within the Philadelphia Department of Prisons,” Hawes said. “It is our duty to ensure the safety and security of the inmates and our staff. It’s expected that they perform accordingly.”

The city’s six prisons house nearly 7,300 inmates, nearly 1,000 of whom live at PICC, a maximum- and medium-security men’s prison.

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