Wyatt Detention Lawyers Try to Block Release of Video
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
PROVIDENCE - Lawyers for the Wyatt Detention Center have asked a federal court judge to bar the release of a video which shows Chinese detainee Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng being dragged from his cell while in obvious pain just days before he died in Wyatt custody.
In a pre-trial motion filed in U.S. District Court in Providence, where Ng’s family has sued Wyatt and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for allegedly failing to provide Ng with necessary medical care before his death, Wyatt officials have asked for an order banning the video’s release, saying it would “ substantially inhibit” their ability to find impartial jurors for the upcoming trial.
But lawyers for the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are objecting to the ban, calling it a “drastic remedy,” which Wyatt hasn’t proven is necessary. The “sole evidence” Wyatt has cited to prove the possibility of pre-trial prejudice is the fact that Internet searches reveal the case has generated national and international publicity, the ACLU lawyers noted in their April 19 objection.
“There is no adequate showing or basis for the entry of a protective order …” the objection states.
Ng’s lawyers also claim that Wyatt has contradicted itself by saying that, on the one hand, the videotape refutes the most serious allegations against the detention center, but, on the other hand, it is too provocative to be released.
“The defendants should not be allowed to have it both ways,” said the ACLU’s volunteer lawyers, Robert J. McConnell, Fidelma L. Fitzpatrick and Aileen Sprague of Motley Rice LLC.
In addition to the issue of the video, the federal court judge presiding over the case is considering a motion made by the federal government to remove itself as a defendant in the case. A decision by U.S. District court Judge William Smith, could come any day now, Steven Brown, the ACLU’s executive director said.
The Rhode Island ACLU filed suit on behalf on Ng’s family in February 2009, approximately five months after the 34-year-old Chinese engineer died at the Central Falls detention center. Ng was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and a broken spine less than a week before he died.
“While Mr. Ng was in detention, not only were his serious medical needs and excruciating pain ignored and ridiculed, but Wyatt staff also subjected him to physical abuse that was nothing less than torture,” McConnell said at the time the lawsuit was filed.
The video Wyatt is seeking to ban purportedly shows Ng screaming in pain while guards dragged him from his cell, shackled him and placed him in a van for a trip to Hartford, Ct. The trip was completely unnecessary, Ng’s lawyers have said. Ng is survived by his wife, Lin Li Qu, and two sons, Raymond and Johnny, both of whom are under the age of five.