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Former inmates suing over excessive force inside Gwinnett County Jail

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Updated: 1/30 11:26 am
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- The former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections will testify in a federal lawsuit that officers inside the Gwinnett County Jail routinely use excessive force.
 
WSB-TV Channel 2’s Craig Lucie has been following the federal lawsuit, and he obtained new videos showing Gwinnett County Jail’s Rapid Response Team (RRT) confronting inmates in holding cells.
 
One of the former inmates broke down and cried when he heard the video of him and other inmates.
 
He told Lucie that he is too traumatized to watch them, and he is one of several who are joining a civil lawsuit filed against the Gwinnett County Jail and the sheriff.
 
In one video you can hear a member to the RRT say, “Ready to step this up?”
 
After those words, the member tells another deputy to move and he pulls out his Taser. A man in shackles, who has his hands in his pocket, is shot in the chest with the Taser.
 
“I’m shocked by these videos. We have one that shows an officer committing an assault on an inmate who is just standing there,” said Craig Jones of the Federal Firm.
 
Jones and John Sicala filed the lawsuit against Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and jail officials. They have hundreds of hours of tapes showing ‘takedowns’ by the Rapid Response Team.
 
“The guy is sitting down so why do they have to throw him on the floor?” asked Jones as they watched one video.
 
Jones pointed out to Lucie how the RRT broke a man’s nose while he was restrained in a chair.
 
“You see him bleeding there? That’s blood coming out of his nose,”said Jones.
 
In another video, a deputy shocked a woman and then you can see team members bend her legs backward.
 
“They get on top of them. They twist them up. They use pressure point techniques against people who aren’t resisting,” said Jones.
 
His partner on the case, John Sicala, says the force has to stop.
 
“We’ve looked at the situation. We have drawn the line and said, ‘Not on my watch,’” said Sicala.
 
Greg Kozlowski, a Polish immigrant, started to cry after Lucie asked him about his experience inside the Gwinnett County Jail. Lucie had to stop the interview.

Kozlowski said he ordered shoes online. When they didn’t show up at his door, he went to the store and asked for his money back.
 
He claims the store employee was disrespectful so he called police to the scene. Kozlowski was then arrested for disorderly conduct.
 
“What has happened in the jail, I cannot believe it.  It’s happening in America. America is a beautiful country, but not supposed to be happening something like this,” said Kozlowski.
 
A Gwinnett County Jail spokeswoman told Lucie they could not comment on pending litigation.
 
In a report just filed for the federal lawsuit, Dr. Allen Ault, a use of force expert and the former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, wrote that "the RRT routinely uses force where no force is justified. The problem is not how they conduct a takedown, but rather, the almost total indiscriminate use of the RRT that have now become standard practice in the jail."

Video: WSB-TV Atlanta
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