Corrections officer hit in face with feces sues

|
Local,DC,Crime,Ben Giles

A D.C. corrections officer who said he developed suicidal tendencies after an inmate threw feces in his face has sued the District's Department of Corrections, claiming they failed to provide him with disability benefits.

Sterling resident Walter Sampson was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident on Aug. 30, 2006, when a prisoner flung feces into his face, according to a complaint filed Thursday.

The corrections department failed by "refusing [Sampson] reasonable accommodation to the known physical and mental limitations" Sampson dealt with after the incident, according to the case.

Calls to Sampson's attorney Friday were not returned.

Sampson didn't work for more than two years after the incident, and underwent regular treatment from a psychiatrist -- weekly visits that gradually lessened to once a month trips to the psychiatrist. From September 2006 to September 2008, he received pay via the temporary total disability benefits he was provided by the corrections department, according to court records.

Another independent psychiatrist cleared Sampson to return to work in December 2007, but only in a position that would exclude any contact from prisoners, according to the case.

Sampson returned to the corrections department on Sept. 2, 2008 -- the day his temporary disability benefits expired -- and was assigned to escort contractors to their work sites. He was later reassigned to the midnight shift at a security desk at the department headquarters, court records show.

The complaint claims that Sampson was again reassigned, this time to a job transporting inmates to and from the Central Detention Facility at the D.C. jail, on Jan. 2, 2009 -- days after Sampson called in sick on the midnight security desk, but was denied sick leave, according to the case.

Sampson was not cleared by his psychiatrist to have contact with inmates at this time, according to court records, and beginning on Jan. 6, 2009, Sampson began seeing his psychiatrist again weekly.

After two days of work transporting inmates, Sampson's psychiatrist declared him a danger to himself and others and not fit for work, according to the complaint, and Sampson was admitted into the Washington Hospital Center with "suicidal tendencies" on Feb. 23, 2009.

Sampson is suing the department for wages he lost since Jan. 6, 2009 -- the department denied reinstatement of his total benefits on March 6, 2009, according to the complaint. He's also seeking compensatory damage for emotional distress.

The Department of Corrections did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment