You Can Break The Man But You Can't Break The Man's Spirit
At the end of March 2016, an incident took place on the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony Texas that paralyzed an unarmed inmate from the neck down. The use of extreme force is beyond this measurement as this inmate was already locked in a cage, secluded from population and apparently no threat to anybody or himself. As I relive this harsh reality please bear with me because of the circumstances of imprisonment I don't have all the names or dates as I relate this sad but true story.
A prisoner was ordered by a correctional officer to turn around, bend over on his knees, and put his forehead on the ground. He replied "no... I only put my forehead on the ground for Allah. Please just take me to my lock up cell." (It is against our beliefs as Muslims to prostrate our heads on the ground to anyone but God.) The officer then said "if you give me what I want then I will give you what you want" and then smirked as he said it. This interaction was cut short as higher rank officials came and he was now just told to turn around so they could handcuff and escort him to a temporary holding cage and he complied and was put in what we call the "Legal cage." Mind you, all this is visually on camera and all has been recorded except audio.
Now this same officer from earlier was assigned to escort him to his lock up cell and upon this action he followed up with the same orders as to, "Turn around bend over on his knees and put his forehead on the ground." He replied again "No, I only put my forehead on the ground for Allah (SWT)!!!" The officer then said "Are you refusing to obey an order and not in compliance so I can properly escort you? Like I said give me what I want and I'll give you what you want." Upon hearing this he realized this was more of a sexual gesture and became hostile toward this officer for his remark and yelled "No, I only bow my forehead on the ground for Allah (SWT)!!! Just put me in handcuffs and take me to my lockup cell."
The officer then took his mace out (or what we in here call gas) and began emptying his whole can of mace into my friend's face until his can was completely empty. He began screaming and saying "Why did you spray me?" The officer then called in a use of force on his walkie talkie. Another and bigger can of mace was then brought and they began spraying him again directly in his face.
As this was taking place the assistant warden named "Cooper" happened to walk up and my friend began his plea "Warden Cooper this man wants me to bend over, put my forehead on the ground just so he can handcuff me. I told him that I will let him put the handcuffs on me and escort me to any cell but me putting my forehead on the ground and bending over is beyond extreme. Please Warden Cooper can you help I'm burning and covered in mace." The warden then turned to the officer and said, "keep up the good work, you're doing a good job." Then Warden Cooper abruptly walked off. The guard then began his rant "See I'm god back here as you can see the Warden just gave me the go ahead. So do as I say."
Just as this officer finished his threats a team of officers arrived suited in extract gear and a use of force camera on. The officer with the camera on told him "you are not in compliance for us to properly escort you therefore a use of force is needed so what is your statement?" He said, "I'm not refusing, just put the handcuffs on me and take me to my cell." The officer said, "is that your statement?" He did not respond. The correctional officers then opened up the door, grabbed and picked him up over their heads and slammed him straight on his head. Mind you he's a small guy at 5'9" and 150lbs. He went limp and they then hogtied him and handcuffed him as the officers dragged him into the Infirmary.
To my friend's recollection, once in the infirmary he heard the nurse say, "we're going to have to send him to UMTB Hospital" right before he passed out. Three (3) days later he awoke in a CAT scan machine and all he could hear was the noise from the CAT scan machine. Once the CAT scan was over he was slid out and then told the nurse "Ma'am can you please take these straps off me so I can get up and walk." The nurse looked at him and said, "Baby there ain't no straps on you, you are paralyzed from the neck down."
Upon hearing this he shed tears relentlessly like never before. He recalls laying in the bed and a fly would land on his forehead and he couldn't even swat it away. The agony of laying in a prison hospital (as they eventually transferred me to one) and not having proper assistance because of the low regard for us as inmates was unbearable, but something he had no choice to bear. Not being able to feed himself, bathe himself or at the very least use the bathroom himself as he had to wait hours on end for prison hospital staff to change his diapers.
One day he was laying there and out of God's good Grace a Muslim (a Muslim woman) walked in and she said "I was making Salat and Allah (SWT) told me while in Salat that there is a Muslim in this hospital that needs a Qu'ran." Hope was conceived on the day. The doctors gave my friend an option, if he did the surgery then there was a chance he might walk again but if he didn't go through with the surgery then he would never walk again. As Muslims it is upon our belief that we only bow to Allah (SWT) so he chose not to go through with the surgery. Six (6) months later when me and my brother crossed paths again he was being wheeled in a wheel chair to Jumu'ah and I began to call him. As we were in each other's presence we began to cry, and he said "I never thought I would be able to make Salat again," and then gave all his might as he struggled to stand and hugged me as we continued to shed unconditional tears. He said "I just learned how to walk again two (2) weeks ago. This morning I woke up in tears from the cramps I felt all over my body and it being so cold. I didn't know if I would make it to Jumu'ah but Allah (SWT) is Akbar." (God is the Greatest).
I was on medical chain to the prison my brother was at and only there from Thursday to Monday. So if he hadn't went to Jumu'ah then we would have never crossed paths. I also seen that the officers broke both of his wrists from when they slammed him on his forehead. My brother can't even wheel himself around because his wrist and motor skills or let alone put his gloves on himself. He now also has to wear glasses because his eyes are too sensitive to the light from the overuse of mace as they burned a layer of his eyes away, in fact on the day he seen me he slowly took his glasses off and sacrificed to endure the pain as he squinted and said, "I want to look at you." They also damaged his memory and he still couldn't control his bowel movements. Through all this he never received a disciplinary infraction because in the end they the quote-unquote correctional officers knew who was wrong. The magnitude of this wrongdoing is that the NAACP Southern Division appointed a lawyer to my brother's case. This sad case shouldn't go unheard to prevent this kind of stuff from ever happening to anybody else.
In physical reality, a man is broken but in spiritual reality his faith never wavered as my brother gave up his physical for what he believed in spiritual. In greatness that belief didn't change on the day of the incident and even in a wheelchair it still hasn't changed now as I write these very words. The moral to this sad but true story is, he is still Muslim and he never stopped praying or gave up his Salats (prayers) as he was paralyzed in a hospital bed and his faith actually became stronger through this trial and tribulation as he said to me when I seen him again "Don't give up Islam."