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" ... Prisoner Johnson's cell caught fire after [CO] Bell again shut his outer door."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

From an e-mail report received Tuesday, 04.13.1999 via the ABOLISH mailing list, and forwarded by the Bannister Foundation's Tom Rodger, who kindly allowed this reprint.

Editor's Note: This is a detailed, factual report. Read through to get the full story. There are some unbelievable turns, and behaviors by officers.

Statement of
Hank Skinner, #999143

April 7, 1999

To whom it may concern:

T he following is a recitation of events occurring at the Ellis Unit F-Wing (Solitary) Death Row on the night of April 6th, morning of April 7th, 1999:

Prisoner Eddie Johnson #999236 asked the third shift Sergeant Glass for clean clothes. Officer Hal R. McCurdy was working the wing 9:30 PM - 5:30 AM and was instructed by the sergeant to give prisoner Johnson clean clothes, which he failed to do.

In the intervening hours from 10:00 PM until 2:30 AM, prisoner Johnson waited patiently for his clothes. At breakfast time prisoner Johnson asked officer McCurdy for the clothes.

McCurdy refused, responding with sarcastic remarks to prisoner Johnson, saying he wasn't giving Johnson anything. Prisoner Johnson asked McCurdy to call the sergeant and McCurdy at first said he "might," then solidly refused to call any supervisor.

McCurdy then left to another cell location and became involved in an altercation with prisoner Gerald Tigner #999099 that McCurdy instigated.

Other prisoners were called upon to generate noise in order to attract the attention of a ranking officer from out in the hall and thus Captain West arrived on the wing.

By that time, CO III Blake Bell had replaced McCurdy. Bell went around shutting prisoners' outer solid metal cell doors without first trying to identify the problem.

Captain West opened the doors of some prisoners he talked to, including this writer. Captain West was advised by me that prisoner Johnson was the one who needed to see him and that prisoner Johnson needed clothes.

Captain West talked to prisoner Johnson, then left the wing.

Prisoner Johnson's cell caught fire after Bell again shut his outer door. The fire was supposedly started by an electrical short.

The fire was out of control with prisoner Johnson trapped in his cell, with no ventilation and no means for the toxic fumes and smoke to exit the cell due to Bell's having closed the solid outer cell door.

Bell ignored repeated screams for help from numerous prisoners including myself. He could be heard at the desk with Sgt. Glass, articulating epithets toward Prisoner Johnson, while he and Sgt. Glass laughed at prisoner Johnson's predicament.

Prisoner Johnson was overcome by smoke and lost consciousness at approximately 4:45 AM. He was left in his cell for over two hours, intentionally, until 1st shift arrived, extracted him from his cell and took him to the infirmary where he was eventually revived.

During the time prisoner Johnson lay unconscious on the flooded floor, Sgt. Glass walked up to his cell once or twice and called to him to get up, but took no other action.

Prisoner Donell Jackson #999206 challenged officer Bell, who then shut Jackson's door, threatened him repeatedly, used the key to lock the outer door, then began taunting prisoner Jackson verbally after cutting off the electrical power to prisoner Jackson's cell.

About 30 minutes later, after other prisoners continually shouted at Bell to restore prisoner Jackson's electricity, Bell went back to Jackson's cell and taunted him some more.

Officer Bell rapidly flipped the switch on and off while looking in the cell door's observation window and verbally taunting prisoner Jackson, calling him derogatory names.

I personally heard and saw the above take place by listening and watching via the reflection of same in the windows.

I swear the above is both true and correct, under penalty of perjury I attest and declare to the best of my knowledge and belief. 29 USC (a symbol I can't reproduce on the computer) 1746.

Given my hand this 7th day of April 1999 AD

Henry W. "Hank" Skinner #999143
Ellis Unit Death Ro
Solitary F2-26
Huntsville TX 77343-0001


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