Convicted cop-killer Demetrius Blackwell is suing New York City after being jumped by two other inmates in a borough jail.
Blackwell, found guilty in the 2015 slaying of NYPD Officer Brian Moore, claims officials at the Brooklyn Detention Center failed to protect him from other prisoners. Citing an altercation last spring, the killer claims to have been maimed due to the “careless, recklessness and gross negligence” of staff.
According to the New York Post, the 37-year old man sustained a 5-inch cut across his face—insisting that he himself is the innocent victim of a spontaneous assault. In his filing, Blackwell says he was attacked “without provocation and justification.”
The altercation was caught on tape. Footage shows two adult inmates—39-year old Kai Watkins and 34-year old Layquan Johnson—charging Blackwell before being interrupted by a corrections officer armed with pepper spray.
Blackwell was sentenced to life without parole in the killing of Moore, a five-year veteran of the New York Police Department. The officer, on patrol with a partner in Queens, pulled up alongside the middle-age man after noticing suspicious movements. Reports indicate that Moore thought Blackwell may have had a firearm hidden in the waistband of his pants.
Upon being asked whether he was armed, Blackwell purportedly said, “Yeah, I got something”—and then started shooting.
Judge Gregory Lasak, who handed down the life sentence to Blackwell, called the man a “cold, calculating killer.”
“Mr. Blackwell, you are nothing but a coward,” said Lasak at sentencing.
The judge showed little sympathy for arguments brought forward by Blackwell’s attorneys, who argued that the man suffered from severe psychological and emotional problems.
“To make it simple for your compromised brain, you are going to die in prison,” Lasak said. “You will never breathe fresh air outside the confines of a New York State prison.”
Afterward, writes NewsDay, Lasak instructed court officers to take Blackwell and “his smirky face” out of his courtroom.
The Law Department didn’t respond to the New York Post’s request for comment. Neither the Law Department nor Blackwell specified how much money the convicted killer is trying to win from the April attack.
Blackwell’s case isn’t likely to earn sympathy from the public—but his complaint hardly marks the first time a convicted criminal has taken prison staff and administrators to court. Last fall, a convicted double-murderer in Missouri named Ecclesiastical Denzel Washington sued the state and its corrections department.
The not-quite-uniquely named Denzel said the state was trying to kill him—with second-hand smoke. After fighting a decade-long battle in court, Washington’s litigation prompted Missouri’s prisons to become smoke-free in 2017.
Both cases—while different in intent and circumstance—underscore the right of prisoners to sue their captors, in situations sensible and not.