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Video raises questions if injuries of inmate were ignored

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Video obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team shows an inmate hog-tied and left in his cell after he claimed he was seriously injured by correctional officers.

The incident at West Tennessee State Penitentiary prompted a lawsuit, and the inmate suing says he received a settlement letter of $85,000 from the state, an amount the attorney general's office disputes.

On November 25, 2009, the cell extraction team at West Tennessee State Penitentiary moved into the cell of inmate David Faulkner. Faulkner was cutting himself and there was blood on the window.

The extraction team went in with shields and helmets on orders to subdue Faulkner and stop him from hurting himself further.

As the officers enter, Faulkner is Tasered and the correctional officer swarm on top of him.

Former inmate and prison watchdog Alex Friedmann watched the video, and said the procedure appears to be done completely by the book, until Faulkner stands up and you can see his eye is swollen.

When Faulkner is taken immediately to a nurse, he can be heard saying that one of the correctional officers kicked him.

A correctional officer can be heard saying that no one kicked him in the face, and again Faulkner repeats it.

In an interview with the Channel 4 I-Team, Faulkner said when the correctional officers entered, one of the men said, "'I told you we was going to teach you a lesson.' He raised his right boot and kicked me in the face."

Faulkner said he never attacked any of the correctional officers.

In the video, Faulkner complains to the nurse that his jaw is broken, his eye is damaged and his shoulder was dislocated.

The nurse can be heard denying that any bones are broken.

Faulkner is then taken back to his cell, is hog-tied and laid on his stomach. The last seconds of the video show the correctional officers leaving.

"There's a large body of research that this type of restraint can lead to death," Friedmann said. "It's a very dangerous technique, widely recognized as something that you shouldn't do."

Faulkner claims he was hog-tied for hours, and said when he was later checked on by a correctional officer, "He took a look at me and said, 'Call an ambulance,'" Faulkner said.

Faulkner was then taken to a hospital, and his records show a doctor determined he had a broken nose, possible face fractures and a dislocated shoulder.

Faulkner said he suffered from the injuries all while being hog-tied, and sued the state.

A spokeswoman for the state department of correction denied our request for an interview because of the pending litigation, but in court filings, the correctional officers involved in the cell extraction deny that Faulkner was severely beaten or that they used more force than what was necessary.

In additional court filings, the nurse who is being sued denies that she disregarded an excessive risk to Faulkner's health.

Faulkner did provide to the Channel 4 I-Team letter from the state's attorney, indicating a settlement offer that started at $50,000, then $65,000 and finally $85,000. The attorney wrote, "We admit no fault under this agreement...it will benefit all parties to settle before trial."

After our story aired, the attorney general's office called to dispute the settlement, saying the letter didn't come from them. The Channel 4 I-Team continues to investigate the origin of the letter.

The Channel 4 I-Team reviewed the state's policy for use of force and deadly force, and there is no mention of using hog-tying as a method.

The lawsuit is still pending.

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