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Former prisoner sues Suffolk County jail for beating, denied medical treatment

A highlight of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute: the jail cell bars behind which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. penned his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in 1963.
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A Marked Suffolk County Sheriff's Office Unit is pictured in front of the Riverhead Correctional Facility.

A former prisoner at the Suffolk County jail has filed a $20 million dollar lawsuit against the sheriff’s office alleging he was beaten and not given medical treatment.

Wilson Cantarero Lopez was serving a 90-day sentence for violating an order of protection when he said correction officers came to move him to another cell. His lawsuit alleges he was complying with the move when about 15 correction officers in riot gear began kicking and hitting him with an unknown plastic weapon.

The lawsuit says he was then placed in a restraint chair and was denied medical treatment for over an hour.

“Unfortunately, that level of abuse from what we can tell, has not been dealt with in terms of form of discipline or supervision," said Fredrick Brewington, a civil rights lawyer representing Cantareo Lopez.

Brewington said he has brought other lawsuits against Suffolk's jail for nearly identical circumstances. He adds this is part of a pattern of failed supervision and systemic assaults against Latinos in the county.

The lawsuit claims that Cantarero Lopez required emergency surgery to repair a torn intestine. After being released from jail, he had to return to the hospital for further treatment.

The Suffolk County Jail declined to comment citing pending litigation.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.