Legal Authority with the Power to Hate: Severely Beaten Black Jail Inmate Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit

Two Walker County Jailers Indicted for Hate Crimes

A former African American jail inmate who was beaten by two White jailers in Walker County, Texas, recently filed a federal civil rights complaint on September 15th with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, accusing the jailers of severely beating him.

According to the disturbing details listed in the lawsuit, Stephen Gambrell, 33, was arrested in July of 2016 for a Class C misdemeanor and taken to the Walker County jail. Gambrell states that he was repeatedly struck in the face and head without any justification by Walker County Jail Detention Officers Sgt. Matthew Derrick Beamon and James Dustin Stephens.

Gambrell goes on to describe his overall ordeal, stating that the two White jailers forced him to be hospitalized at Huntsville Memorial Hospital as a result of the attack.

At the jail, Gambrell was helplessly punched and kicked in the face and head by Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens, while also banging his head onto the cement floor, causing serious and traumatic injuries to his face and head including hematomas, contusions and cuts which required that he be rushed to Huntsville Memorial Hospital.

That incident was immediately reported to the Texas Rangers who began an investigation into the use of excessive force complaint that was brought forth by Gambrell.

During an investigation conducted by Texas Ranger Steve Jeter, he gathered enough evidence to have Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens charged and arrested for Official Oppression, which is a Class A misdemeanor. Upon further investigation, more evidence revealed that the attack had been racially motivated. The case was then presented to a Waller County Grand Jury, who returned two indictments against Sgt. Beamon for Official Oppression with a hate crime enhancement under Texas criminal law and one indictment against Jailer Stephens for Official Oppression with a hate crime enhancement under Texas criminal law.

Walker County District Attorney David Weeks responded to the indictment of the two men stating, “The Walker County District Attorney’s Office considers these types of cases extremely disturbing and intends to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

As a result of his traumatic ordeal, Gambrell has not only had to recover from his physical injuries, but has also had to deal with symptoms of anxiety, depression and fear. Gambrell did nothing at all to provoke the actions of Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens, and neither one of the two White jailers was injured.

These types of reports are nothing new coming from the Walker County jail, however, in that the jail has had a long history of excessive force against minority inmates. There have been many other instances in the last 10 years that Walker County jail inmates were subjected to excessive force, yet nothing was ever done about it, including other excessive force incidents involving Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens.

Earlier in June of 2016, another Walker County jail inmate was reportedly beaten by Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens. As was the case with Gambrell, this beaten inmate did nothing to provoke the actions of the two jailers, and neither one of them was injured.

A jailer at the Walker County jail, Nell Lemons, was fired in June of 2016 for reporting excessive force by Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens. According to reports, on several occasions those excessive force complaints were reported to Walker County Sheriff Clint McCrae and other high-ranking officials at the jail, yet Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens were never disciplined and continued to work at the jail without any accountability for their actions.

According to reports, there was an area near the jail intake area known to Sheriff McCrae and others that had no cameras and where inmates were beaten with no ability to record the abuse.

The incidents at the Walker County jail do not mark the first time that Sgt. Beamon and Jailer Stephens have been involved with use of excessive force complaints. Both men have a reported history of excessive force incidents at places they worked prior to being hired by Walker County. Prior to working at the Walker County jail, Sgt. Beamon was fired by the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) for using excessive force and Jailer Stephens was fired from a boy’s school after using excessive force.

Court documents show that Gambrell is being represented by civil rights attorney Randall L. Kallinen of Kallinen Law PLLC and Frederick K. Wilson of the Law Office of Frederick Wilson. Kallinen states that this is an ongoing issue at the Walker County jail that needs to be addressed.

“I have uncovered evidence that the Walker County jail has been using excessive force on minority inmates with impunity for years, “said Kallinen. “This lawsuit seeks to put a stop to this repugnant practice that has no place in civilized society.”

The Forward Times will continue to follow this case and will keep its readers up-to-date on the latest developments regarding these serious hate crime charges that have been levied against these two jailers who had the legal authority to allegedly attack and severely beat this former Black jail inmate unjustly.