Public outrage has grown after a video was leaked that showed the treatment of Shaheen Mackey while in custody of corrections officers at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
In the video, Mackey is seen sitting in a chair while several guards restrain him. One corrections officer holds a spit cloth over his face. When the guards eventually realize he has lost consciousness, they place him on the floor and begin doing chest compressions. Mackey died several days later on June 6, 2018, in the hospital after being on life support.
Family members indicated they believed he suffered seizures, and they filed a lawsuit over his death, alleging that officials did not provide him with proper care and that prison workers used stun guns on him more than 20 times while he was suffering from convulsions, the Times-Leader in Wilkes-Barre reported in December 2019.
After the Luzerne County Council voted to approve a $3 million settlement to Mackey’s family in June 2020, one of the family’s attorneys, Theron Solomon, said, “We are looking for reform and we’re looking for real change. Including, I think they need to take a real hard look at their personnel,” WNEP reported.
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“During the 4 hours he was held there, Shaheen Mackey had a seizure and called for medical help,” Nieem Johnson wrote in part on his Facebook page, where he posted the video last week, News One reports. “While his hands was cuffed behind his back in the chair with a spit mask on his face and his feet shackled, the correctional officers shocked him with tasers and not just held the spit mask on his face but choked him with it.”
Mackey’s cause of death was listed as “natural” and Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis reportedly said after viewing the video she still stands by her decision not to charge any prison employees.
“Neither the county’s decision to settle the civil action, nor the video’s release affect the investigation or decision with respect to criminal charges against the corrections officers in this case,” Salavantis told Citizens Voice on August 5. “It should be noted that not only did our office expend a substantial amount of time and resources doing a full investigation into the incident; the matter was also reviewed by federal authorities.”
Mackey’s family is calling for the investigation into his death to be reopened. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump also retweeted the video.
WARNING: DISTURBING. Shaheen Mackey had a seizure at Luzerne Co. Correctional Facility. Staff covered his face with a spit mask, cuffed his hands behind his back, shackled his feet, and STILL tased him. By the time they realize he was dead, it was already too late… Sickening!! pic.twitter.com/Hgw2tmsjJC
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 6, 2020
“WARNING: DISTURBING. Shaheen Mackey had a seizure at Luzerne Co. Correctional Facility. Staff covered his face with a spit mask, cuffed his hands behind his back, shackled his feet, and STILL tased him. By the time they realize he was dead, it was already too late… Sickening!!”
Mackey’s daughter, Tatiyanne Mackey, has been actively advocating for another investigation into her father’s death.
“It’s not fair. It should have to come to this, us putting out a video for people to see the truth. This is real pain; this is not a joke. This is real life,” she told WNEP.
Protesters in Pennsylvania wore red shirts on Sunday and marched in protest, shouting, “No justice, no peace,” and “Black lives matter,” according to reports.
The protest also included a prayer that was dedicated to Mackey and the playing of an original song he recorded for his children.