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by Sharon Rondeau

TDOC Commissioner Derrick Schofield is described by his employer as “a nationally recognized leader in corrections”

(May 9, 2015) — In a telephone conversation on Friday afternoon, NWCX prisoner Timothy Aaron Baxter told The Post & Email that videos of a beating he sustained on September 11, 2009 at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary have “disappeared.”

Last week, Baxter described how he was assaulted in the “sally port” area outside the institution by another inmate, then nearly strangled while handcuffed by two corrections officers who happened to be brothers with the last name of “Moffatt.”

On Friday, Baxter said there were four “high-security cameras” which recorded the assault and that he and a female prison counselor later watched one of the videos “close-up” showing the assault.

Baxter reported that he was hit on the back of the head with a radio and that his left arm and shoulder received repeated blows from an axe.  Following the beating, he was accused of “assault on staff.” He told The Post & Email that his left shoulder, arm, and elbow are permanently damaged and that he incurred severe injuries to both wrists as a result of handcuffs which were so tight as to cut off his circulation, causing black blotches to appear on the skin for approximately two weeks.

He has also reported blurred vision in the eye in which he was punched, ringing in his ears from having been hit on the back of the head, and chronic headaches in a federal lawsuit filed against the State of Tennessee.   In a “Statement of Undisputed Material Facts” submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Jackson Division, Baxter wrote, in part:

Baxter described a “shoddy investigation” of the incident on the part of TDOC staff, after which he was cleared of the “assault on staff” charge but denied medical attention despite having registered numerous “sick calls.”

Baxter said that of the four area video-cameras which recorded the beating, only one videotape remains.  “They’re destroying evidence,” he said.  Four affidavits sworn by attorneys for the defendants state that the video they have viewed of the incident does not show Baxter being choked.

An affidavit by Margie Hays, the prison counselor, denies that she “told inmate Timothy Baxter that I remembered seeing two different videos of the sally port incident.”

In a document signed by Attorney General and Reporter Herbert H. Slatery III’s Senior Counsel, Jennifer Brenner, defendant Robert Moffatt alleges that Baxter “attempted to strike me with the first blow,” after which Moffatt “raised a tomato stake” against Baxter.  Moffatt denies knowing whether or not Baxter received medical care while he was kept in the “punitive segregation area.”

In an April 16 letter to The Post & Email, Baxter wrote:

As The Post & Email reported on May 5, a response from Neysa E. Taylor to an Open Records request for documents pertaining to Baxter’s assault indicated that “We have reviewed your request and have found that we do not have any public records responsive to your request.”

As related in a Channel 4 report from last year, the former warden of the West Tennessee penitentiary reported that he was himself a victim of assault within the facility but that “there is no record of his assault.”

Reporter Jeremy Finley wrote in his article that Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) Commissioner Derrick Schofield responded to the report by stating, in part, “TDOC has never attempted to ‘cover up’ assaults or any other incidents.”  Schofield reportedly denied several interview requests from Finley’s investigative team.

Finley quoted a former deputy warden of the BCCX complex in Pikeville and the former West Tennessee facility warden as having said that they were “Encouraged, if not ordered to” change assault reports to “something else,” if not to delete them from the records system entirely.

State prisoner Mike Parsons has also reported the WTSP at Henning to be a dangerous facility.

The Post & Email has recently been told by a reliable source from within a Tennessee state penitentiary that “TDOC’s prison operation is in chaos and turmoil.”

The following letter has been sent to Schofield:

May 9, 2015

Commissioner Derrick D. Schofield
Tennessee Department of Corrections
320 Sixth Avenue North
6th Floor, Rachel Jackson Building
Nashville, TN  37243-0465

Dear Commissioner Schofield:

TOMIS #304285
DOB:  05/15/1979

I am writing to inquire if an assault on an inmate which occurred in 2009 has been purged, altered, or never entered into your records stemming from revelations made in a Channel 4 report from last year:  http://www.wsmv.com/story/25346073/former-tn-prison-wardens-state-agency-hiding-records-of-assault

On April 16, I sent an Open Records request to the TDOC for documentation on the assault against this inmate but was told by Director of Communication Neysa Taylor by email that no responsive records exist.

Mr. Baxter has described permanent injuries incurred from the assault reportedly carried out by two corrections officers which are the subject of a federal lawsuit, 2:10-cv-02667-STA-tmp, Timothy Aaron Baxter v. State of Tennessee, et al, Arthur Mallory, Robert Moffatt, John Moffatt.  According to PACER, document #280 in the lawsuit was registered on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

Over the last six years, my publication has aggressively investigated and documented cases of Tennessee police brutality, rigged juries, and criminally-behaving prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and court clerks who work together in a “prisoners-for-profit” enterprise which incarcerates as many citizens as possible without due process.  I have reviewed extensive documentation in this case which indicates that Mr. Baxter has been targeted, framed and incarcerated twice without due process, perhaps from a personal vendetta on the part of the prosecutor’s office against the family.

Numerous citizens so victimized have begun to speak out about their experiences with the Tennessee civil and criminal courts, which routinely break the law to achieve their goals.

Some remain too terrorized to come forward, while others have left the state.  After learning of the systemic corruption in Tennessee, at least one person in my reading audience decided not to retire there.

Those involved in perpetrating crimes against their fellow citizens, locking them up with impunity, must be receiving handsome rewards for their malfeasance.

While I understand that the courts are not your purview, the assaults occurring in state prisons are.  I am therefore requesting that you personally investigate why this prisoner has not received medical care for his injuries incurred in 2009 while he was in your custody and why there is no record of the assault in your system.

The criminal wrongdoing on the part of those expected to serve the community has been reported to the FBI and TBI, but unfortunately, they appear to be part of the problem.  Other avenues of redress are still being explored.

I will appreciate hearing from you at your earliest convenience regarding the assault against this prisoner which resulted in permanent injuries.  Since we are in regular communication, I am certain that Mr. Baxter will report any retaliation he experiences as a result of this inquiry.

Very truly yours,

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT  06076
Phone/Fax:  203-987-7948

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