/NY prison corrections officers brutally beat inmate hours before he committed suicide: Suit
NY prison corrections officers brutally beat inmate hours before he committed suicide: Suit

NY prison corrections officers brutally beat inmate hours before he committed suicide: Suit

NY prison corrections officers brutally beat inmate hours before he committed suicide: Suit
A group of correction officers allegedly beat Dante Taylor until he was unconscious and hogtied him, the suit charges. A horrific photo after the beating shows Taylor’s badly swollen face. He hanged himself in his cell a day later, on Oct. 7, 2017. Taylor killed a Medford, L.I. mom, Sarah Goode, in 2014. (Obtained by Daily News)

State prison corrections officers pummeled an inmate serving a life sentence for the murder of a Suffolk County mom, driving him to suicide, a disturbing new lawsuit charged Monday.

Two sergeants and two corrections officers at Wende Correctional Facility outside of Buffalo beat Dante Taylor with fists and batons, hogtied his arms and legs and then threw him down a flight of stairs on Oct. 6, 2017, according to the lawsuit filed by the inmate’s mother, Darlene Taylor. Photos included in the suit show Taylor’s black and blue swollen face after the incident. Less than 12 hours later, Taylor, 22, hanged himself in his cell.

“These officers, they’re public servants. They don’t have the right to inflict punishment on people. They don’t have the right to decide that somebody should be punished or abused or brutalized,” Darlene Taylor, 43, told the Daily News.

The heartbroken mom said Wende prison staff treated her with callous indifference — even on the day of her son’s death. She couldn’t bring herself to look at the disturbing photos of Dante’s face.

“I’m afraid if I actually see (the photos) that I just won’t be able to keep going,” Taylor said. “I’m afraid if I looked at it that I just wouldn’t be able to deal with it.”

The 45-page lawsuit filed in Buffalo Federal Court against the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and prison staff details numerous signs that Taylor was a suicide risk. Over the course of a year Taylor was in and out of solitary confinement, abusing drugs that strained his fragile mental state, tormented by corrections officers and neglected by medical staff, the suit charges, citing medical documents, incident reports and inmate accounts.

Taylor was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder murder of Monsey, L.I. mom Sarah Goode in 2014. Taylor stabbed the 21-year-old woman over 40 times and left her body in a wooded area. But Dante’s crime didn’t justify his treatment behind bars, his mother said.

“He was a human being as well,” she said.

“Correction officers should do their job without inflicting pain on people."

Staff knew Taylor was a suicide risk when he arrived at Wende on Oct. 17, 2016, the suit claims. Prison records show Taylor told staff he’d attempted to hang himself in 2009 and was discharged from the Marines for attempting to hang himself again. He said he’d been sexually abused as a child, which is also linked to suicide.

Taylor was menaced by a corrections officer who denied him food and showers upon his arrival at Wende, according to the suit. The officer, who wasn’t identified in the lawsuit, allegedly smeared Taylor as a snitch to other staff. The suit seeks unspecified damages for medical malpractice, excessive force and wrongful death.

NY prison corrections officers brutally beat inmate hours before he committed suicide: Suit
A photo shows Taylor’s grotesquely swollen face on Oct. 6, 2017. Less than 12 hours after the alleged beating, Taylor hanged himself in his cell. (Obtained by Daily News)

Darlene Taylor, who works as a nurse, said she and other family provided a vital support network for her son. But their contact was frequently cutoff by Dante Taylor’s stints in solitary. Taylor had several months-long stays in a form of solitary called “keep lock.” The first time he told staff he felt suicidal as a way to be served food, his mother said. Subsequent stays in isolation were punishment for him abusing the dangerous synthetic marijuana K2 and Molly, according to the suit.

“That’s not a recognized treatment for somebody with substance abuse problems: lock them in a cell for three months,” attorney Katie Rosenfeld, who filed the suit, said.

Advocates have called for a ban on solitary confinement at state prisons, saying the practice is torture that elevates the risk of suicide behind bars. The city has banned solitary entirely for inmates 21 and under. Some 4,000 people are in isolation in state prisons, according to the Halt Solitary Campaign. Fifty New York prisoners died in the past five years due to insufficient medical care, according to a 2018 state medical review board report. At least seven inmates have committed suicide at Wende since 2010.

Prison staff documented Taylor’s descent into depression.

He said he felt “like a burden to his family,” according to the suit. “Feeling depressed and thought about hanging himself” another report noted.

“Having keep lock time, with little to entertain himself, makes it hard,” read another report.

NY prison corrections officers brutally beat inmate hours before he committed suicide: Suit
Dante Taylor is pictured with his mother, Darlene McDay, in 2017. (Obtained by Daily News)

Only two days before his suicide, Taylor said “what am I doing here?” “I want to kill myself” and “I’ll hang myself” while in the throes of K2, according to the suit.

The next day, Sgt. Scott Lambert, Sgt. Timothy Lewalski, Corrections Officer Melvin Maldonado and a Corrections Officer McDonald assaulted Taylor after he had a K2-induced seizure, according to the suit. Inmates called Darlene, alerted her that Dante had been abused by Wende guards and urged her to get more information, she recalled.

Prison records documented Taylor’s injuries as self inflicted, claiming he banged his head against a wall, the suit states.

Darlene said she frantically tried to get information from unhelpful Wende staff. A reverend eventually gave her the awful news that her son had hanged himself with a bedsheet.

“I didn’t know what to do. I was going crazy,” Taylor recalled.

A supervisor she got on the phone denied her son had been beaten. Dante Taylor’s body was badly bruised at his funeral.

“They’re liars,” she said.

She couldn’t believe medical staff that treated her son didn’t sound the alarm.

“They have to be held accountable for them to stop,” Darlene said.

“Changes have to be made. that’s one of my main goals. I can’t bring back my son. I would do anything to do that. If changes could be made that would make a difference in other peoples lives — at least he didn’t die in vain, essentially. I hate to say that. but something positive has to come out of this," she said.