A man who alleges he was beaten by other inmates at the direction of prison officials filed a lawsuit this week against the state corrections department.

The suit alleges prison officials ordered inmates to beat the man last year after he refused to grind paint off a cell-block floor without eye or respiratory protection.

The inmate, Nickolas Milligan, refused the order out of concern that the paint contained lead or other dangerous substances, according to the suit filed Monday in the First Judicial District Court.

The suit also alleges medical staff at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas falsified documentation by indicating that Milligan refused medical treatment after the 2022 attack.

A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Corrections Department said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation.

The suit comes as lawmakers consider legislation that would create an 11-member corrections advisory board to provide independent oversight of inmate safety and personnel issues in New Mexico prisons. House Bill 297 remains in the House Judiciary Committee.

New Mexico spent about $1.9 million to settle 29 legal claims against the Corrections Department in a recent 12-month period, including a $450,000 settlement stemming from an inmate’s accusation that a corrections officer raped her twice.

The new lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the Hall Monagle Huffman and Wallace law firm, identifies as defendants the New Mexico Corrections Department and two corrections officers, Cameron Watson and Capt. Jessie Diaz. It seeks unspecified damages.

On Aug. 10, 2022, Milligan was assigned to a work crew, which was often used as a “punitive work detail for noncompliant inmates,” according to the suit.

After Milligan refused Watson’s order to grind paint off the floor, Diaz arrived on the scene with three inmates and threatened Milligan with punishment “including physical violence” if he didn’t comply, the suit alleges.

Diaz ordered the three inmates to punish Milligan, according to the suit. A fourth inmate participated in the attack as Watson and Diaz “watched this beating take place and made no effort to intervene,” it said.

Milligan sought treatment at the prison’s medical unit for “substantial physical and psychological harm,” the suit said.

While waiting for treatment, Diaz allegedly “mocked” Milligan and asked “was it worth it?” the suit alleges. When Mulligan argued that the beating was unjust and unlawful, he was refused medical treatment and sent back to his cell, it said.

What’s your Reaction?
+1
1
+1
6
+1
1
+1
0
+1
1
+1
3
Olivier Uyttebrouck | Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer