Graphic videos show inmate’s pain as officers strap him down
Graphic videos filed in a Tennessee court show a death row inmate who has just returned from the hospital repeatedly telling officers that he is in pain as they strap him so tightly to a bed that his arms turn purple.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Graphic videos filed in a Tennessee court on Tuesday show a death row inmate who has just returned from the hospital repeatedly telling officers that he is in pain as they strap him so tightly to a bed that his arms turn purple.
Henry Hodges is suing the Tennessee Department of Correction over his treatment by prison staff after what his attorney has said was a psychotic episode last October. Hodges slit his wrists and then cut off his penis after he was put on suicide watch Oct. 7. He was hospitalized for about two weeks, and his penis was reattached. However, weeks later, Hodges’ penis had to be surgically removed after necrosis set in, according to court records.
When Hodges returned to the prison infirmary after his initial hospital stay, he was placed naked on a thin vinyl mattress and strapped down to a concrete slab underneath. The room where he was housed had no TV, radio or other mental stimulation, and the lights were always on, according to court records. Lawyers for the state have argued that he was provided with appropriate around-the-clock care.
Three videos were filed as evidence in Hodges’ case by his attorneys on Tuesday after media including the Nashville Banner and The Associated Press intervened to protect public access to records in the case.
The videos made public on Tuesday were taken upon Hodges’ return from the hospital.
The first shows him being wheeled into the prison infirmary. Officers spend nearly all of the 17-minute video strapping him by wrists and ankles to large metal bolts in the slab, using restraints similar to car seat belts. They also place large soft mitts over his hands.
Hodges initially appears somewhat disoriented and is mostly silent, but gradually grows agitated. At one point he asks to speak to his lawyer but is ignored. He screams several times, seemingly in frustration.
The second video that lasts about 8 minutes picks up with the officers still applying the restraints. A nurse checks the straps and asks for one to be tightened. Hodges tells her, “I refuse all medical treatment. All food. All water. All medical treatment.” He becomes more agitated as she touches him. He screams several more times. The officers take away his socks and hospital gown, leaving him with only a black square of cloth that covers him from about his abdomen to his calves.
A new person then enters the room saying she is from the prison’s mental health program. “You’re not here to help me,” Hodges says, then telling her to leave repeatedly.
When she tries to continue talking with him, asking him why he is refusing food and “What’s troubling you?” Hodges becomes belligerent, cursing at her and insulting her with crude language before she leaves and officers shut the cell door.
In the longest video, Hodges is still strapped to the bed and has defecated on himself, including on his bandages. Over the course of 45 minutes, several officers laboriously move his limbs between restraints as infirmary workers clean up some of the mess with what appear to be baby wipes. One gives him a shot without his permission, causing Hodges severe agitation.
Hodges asks what was in the injection and repeats that he wants no medical treatment. He is told that it will calm him down.
Previously strapped down by his wrists and ankles, the officers now strap down his biceps as well. One officer can be heard instructing another to pull the restraints “as tight as you can.”
Attorneys for the state have said that Hodges was put in 6-point restraints because he removed his catheter.
Hodges repeatedly tells the officers, “I’m in pain” and “You’re hurting me.” He indicates that he is in pain at least 50 times in the 45-minute video. The officers make some effort to reposition Hodges’ limbs in response to his complaints, but his arms below the bicep straps are visibly purple, and Hodges says they are numb.
Hodges warns them that he has blood circulation problems and asks repeatedly to have his blood pressure checked. That does not happen during the video. At one point, he asks why he has to be restrained. “I was in the hospital for two weeks and cooperating with everything they want me to do,” he tells them.
The video ends with Hodges left in the 6-point restraints, feces still visible on his body as officers close the door to the cell and lock it. Hodges’ penis was surgically removed weeks following that recorded infirmary visit.
Hodges was sentenced to death for the 1990 killing of a telephone repairman.
His lawsuit filed in Chancery Court in Nashville was put on hold in December in order to allow Hodges time to exhaust the administrative grievance procedure at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. However, Davidson County Chancellor I’Ashea Myles agreed to hear arguments from The Associated Press and the Nashville Banner that photos, videos and other documents in the case should be open to the public.
Myles originally ordered the state to redact the videos and turn them over to the defense by Jan. 27, but the state repeatedly asked for extensions.