WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) – The family of the guard killed during a prison uprising in Delaware files a lawsuit targeting not only the state of Delaware, but two former governors as well.
The lawsuit claims Delaware officials failed to provide adequate staffing and safe working environments within state prisons.
The lawsuit specifically charges state previous two governors, Jack Markell and Ruth Ann Minner, with knowingly understaffing prisons in Delaware.
The family of the slain correctional officer and the other officers held hostage in February were at today’s news conference. None spoke, but it was an emotional announcement of the lawsuit.
It has been just over two months since inmates took over the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.
For about 18 hours, five Department of Correction officers were held hostage.
One of them died, Lieutenant Steven R. Floyd.
“Lt. Floyd was the epitome of a public servant,” says attorney Thomas Crumplar.
With attorneys at a news conference, Lt. Floyd’s widow and the other officers held hostage announced the filing of a federal lawsuit.
“After an exhaustive two month investigation, today we charged it for 16 years, it has been the policy of two governors in Delaware to deliberately not to employ enough officers to safely run Delaware’s prisons,” says attorney Tom Neuberger.
Lt. Floyd had been on the job for 16 years. Prior to his death he had been warning of a severe lack of staffing at the prison.
His family and fellow officers want justice for his death and change.
“My clients have been forced to do this. It may be a long hard struggle, but they are prepared to see it through.”
The suit is seeking punitive damages for the death of the slain correctional officer and punitive damages for the torture the other officers endured.
But more importantly, what was emphasized in the news conference is that they hope greater change comes of this.
All the plaintiff’s in the suit are hoping for better and safe conditions for correctional officers in the State’s Department of Corrections.
“They have to hire more people,” said Attorney Neuberger, “ They have to start putting in cameras. Can you believe they don’t have cameras [in the correctional facility]?”
The family of Lt. Floyd is also seeking an injunction to force officials to release the autopsy result of the late lieutenant.
“A man died. His family can’t get an autopsy report? This is scandalous,” said Dr. Christopher Bullock with the Delaware Coalition for Prison Reform.