BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – Jail reform advocates in Broome County are celebrating a partial legal victory in a lawsuit alleging a beating, terrorizing and use of the N-word against a Broome County Jail inmate.
Lawyers for Taej’on Vega filed suit against the county, two corrections officers and a supervisor claiming that the guards savagely beat Vega during a planned housing unit search in February 2020.
Vega says he was taken to his cell and beaten, given a body cavity search and had his personal items destroyed or flushed down the toilet as punishment for talking back.
Vega, who is Black, also alleges that the CO’s repeatedly called him the N-word while ordering him to strip and do what he was told.
The guards counter that they did not mistreat or injure Vega, although he was found to have injuries to his face, chest and neck. Officers suggested that those injuries were self-inflicted.
At issue in the ruling was video from a body cam worn by the supervisor that was subsequently deleted. While the federal judge hearing the case did not issue sanctions against the county for the missing video, she ruled that the guards could not testify about what they claimed to have seen in the video during any trial.
She also ordered compensation for Vega’s legal fees related to the missing video. The judge also rejected some of the county’s motions to dismiss the case although she did throw out some of the allegations against the county.
While noting that the incident in question took place three years before he became Sheriff, Sheriff Fred Akshar says his office has taken steps to update policies related to body cameras and security video retention.
Akshar says excessive use of force and racial slurs are not tolerated in the jail.