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Via Skype, former inmate sues Valley Street jail guards

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 25. 2013 8:11PM

MANCHESTER — Thomas Thompson is getting his day in court, his virtual day that is.

A Canadian deported from the United States after serving a prison term, he has been appearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court via the audio-video link Skype to sue three correction officers from the Valley Street Jail over his pre-trail confinement seven years ago.

“He’s my client in a box,” said Michael Sheehan, the Concord lawyer who has brought the case. In 2007, Thompson pleaded guilty to three counts of statutory rape, served his sentence at New Hampshire State Prison and was deported.

He is one of three former inmates at Valley Street Jail to bring suit against the county and several corrections officers over their treatment during 2006 and 2007.

After various rulings, the case has boiled down to three defendants — Vincent Williams, now a lieutenant at the jail; Todd Gordon, now a sergeant, and Nicholas Granville, who is now a Derry police officer.

Thompson claims he was handcuffed, beaten about the head and back, maced and had his head slammed into a wall. He also claims he was forced to wear the same clothes for 25 days, was given little food and threatened with retaliation if he complained.

On Tuesday, several officers testified that Thompson had to be pepper-sprayed and brought to the ground in May 2006 when he threw his shirt at a corrections officer while undergoing a strip search.

At the time, he told the corrections officers he would sue them and started hitting himself in the head, said Sgt. Ryan Levierge.

“It sounds like he wants money,” Levierge said about the suit.

Earlier Tuesday, Thompson’s public defender testified that when he visited him in May, his client had bruises on his face and scratched eye glasses.

“He didn’t really want to talk about it, but he did explain he had been assaulted by the guards,” said Scott Rankin, a former public defender who handled Thompson’s criminal case. Rankin said he followed his client’s wishes and did not report the injuries.

On Monday, several inmates testified that they heard screams coming from Thompson’s cell when three corrections officers entered it.

Gordon Fuller said toilet flushes would drown out much of the sound from the cells.

“I heard clicking of (hand)cuffs and the toilet flushing, flushing and flushing,” he said. “And I heard some guy scream in pain.”

Three separate trials are being held involving the defendants. In May, a jury ruled in favor of the defendants over Juan Marquez. A trial is expected later this summer involving claims brought by Christopher Robinson.

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