Idaho Prison Inmate Sues, Claims Staff Used Excessive Force

Inmates walk within the walls of the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise.

KUNA — An Idaho inmate claims he is still suffering headaches and back pain more than three years after an excessively forceful search by the prison’s emergency response team.

Joshua Nall, an inmate at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Kuna, is suing the state’s correction department and prison staff. He is asking for damages to be proven at a trial; a pre-trial is set for Nov. 19.

The suit, filed in 2015 in federal court, claims members of the prison’s Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) team, in full gear and shields, forcefully escorted Nall out of his cell, knocking him face first into the ground on multiple occasions. It names Idaho Department of Corrections, CERT team members and Warden Keith Yordy as defendants.

Jeff Ray, IDOC spokesman, described the CERT team as a “tactical unit that responds to emergencies in IDOC’s correctional facilities.”

In an email, Ray wrote the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Nall claims he was taken by CERT team members to a foyer to be searched for contraband. On the way there, team members, who had grabbed him by both arms were ramming him into walls, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Counsel for the defendants responded to an updated complaint in September denying the allegations of excessive force. The answer to Nall’s complaint does say an Idaho Department of Correction CERT team conducted a search of Nall’s cell on June 3, 2015, but does not admit the allegations of excessive force.

Following a strip search for contraband with other inmates, Nall says he was directed to face forward and put his clothes on. When he asked which he was supposed to do and grabbed his boxers, he claims a guard yelled to other guards to “take him down.”

“My feet were pulled down from under me and my head slammed on the floor first,” according to the affidavit. “I then felt a knee on me and I was told to ‘stop resisting.’”

Other inmates present were told to face the wall, the affidavit states.

Nall claims CERT team members multiple times pulled his feet from under him and also held him down by placing their knees on his legs, back and neck. Nall has a metal plate in his brain and suffers from a brain tumor, according to a complaint filed by his attorney Jason Monteleone. Nall claims he never resisted the guards.

It is not clear why a CERT team was allegedly partaking in the search. Monteleone did not return a call for comment.

Nall claims he was then taken back to his cell, which had been completely emptied of everything. Following the encounter, he says other guards in the unit, not the CERT members, took photos of his injuries and blood left in the hall. They also told him they would be making statements about what they saw and how it wasn’t right, according to the affidavit. It isn’t clear if those statements have been made.

Nall, who is serving time for conspiracy to commit burglary and supplying firearms to a criminal gang, said he was told after the encounter that he was a target in a security threat group for bringing drugs into the institution. He claims he was never given a urine test or put on a list for a security threat group.

Vivian Lee, Nall’s mother, told the Idaho Press she received calls from inmates regarding an incident. She said she was concerned about the plate in his head and that he might now be in isolation after the altercation.

As a former nurse at Saint Alphonsus, she is familiar with health care, she said.

“He was totally traumatized,” she said. “He was not himself.”