An out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed sum has been reached in a federal civil rights lawsuit brought against Crawford County and two county jail corrections officers for the alleged beating of an inmate by guards.
Carl Gibson, 58, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Erie in January of this year for an alleged assault by guards inside his cell on July 8, 2018.
Gibson’s injuries were so extensive that he had to have surgery to repair fractured bones in his face, according to the suit, which claimed corrections officers assaulted Gibson after he threw milk on one of them.
Gibson was incarcerated on charges of stalking, disorderly and harassment filed by Cochranton Police Department. He was released from the county jail Oct. 2, 2018, after a $25,000 bond was posted through a professional bond service. He later pleaded guilty to the stalking charge in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas and was sentenced in county court in April to 145 days already served in jail followed by two years of probation.
Gibson’s federal suit alleged his civil rights were violated because of excessive force used against him as well as a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because of his mental illness.
The suit claimed Gibson was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and he was beaten because officers “were frustrated by his mental disability, which was causing him to act in an antisocial manner.”
Among other claims, the suit alleged the assault on Gibson was without justification; a lieutenant at the jail failed to investigate properly; and corrections officers who transported Gibson for medical treatment made false statements to medical personnel about why he was taken to the hospital and the cause of his injuries.
The suit sought damages in excess of $75,000 as well as attorney fees and “all other relief permitted by law.”
In May, the county and Gibson notified the court of mediation to try to avoid a civil trial, according to court records.
A notice of voluntary dismissal was filed with U.S. District Court in Erie on June 21, but no dollar amount is listed with the dismissal.
The notice only states both sides “stipulate to the dismissal with prejudice of all claims against all defendants,” meaning the case is dismissed permanently.
“The Gibson case has been resolved,” John F. Mizner of Erie, Gibson’s attorney in the civil rights suit, said Friday via email when contacted by the Tribune. “The parties have agree that there will be no public comment regarding any matter pertinent to the lawsuit, therefore, I am unable to comment further.”
Francis Weiderspahn Jr., chairman of Crawford County commissioners, confirmed the settlement but referred the Tribune to attorney Patrick M. Carey of Erie, who represented the county and the two corrections officers in the federal civil suit.
Tribune calls and emails to Carey’s office Friday weren’t returned.
Meanwhile, Bryan Minman, one of the two Crawford County jail corrections officers named in Gibson’s federal suit, is scheduled to go on trial in Crawford Court of Common Pleas this fall on criminal charges in connection with Gibson’s alleged beating.
Minman, 33, of Saegertown was charged by Pennsylvania State Police in January of this year with two counts each of simple assault and official oppression.
Minman was charged after Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz learned of the alleged assault Aug. 29, 2018, when a member of the public contacted him about the injuries. Schultz then had state police initiate an investigation into possible criminal charges.
Schultz said the incident was recorded on the jail’s video system. Gibson received prompt medical attention and later had an operation to surgically repair the bones in his face, according to Schultz.
Police allege Minman, who was a guard on duty, struck Gibson in the face inside a cell.
Minman hit Gibson so hard that surgery was required to repair his face, according to the complaint. Minman first attempted to strike Gibson in the face while Gibson was standing on a bed in his cell, according to complaint.
“Gibson fell onto the floor and was in a seated position with his hand positioned by his face/head and his back was against the concrete wall,” the complaint said. “Minman then struck Gibson on the left side of his face with a closed fist causing an injury, which required surgery to repair.”
Minman was suspended by Crawford County without pay from his corrections officer job on Jan. 30 — the day charges were filed against him by state police. He first was hired as a per diem corrections employee by the county Jan. 7, 2008, and became full-time officer on July 6, 2009.
Minman remains free on his own recognizance awaiting trial.
Original story by: Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.