In a Wednesday morning ruling, US Judge Royce Lamberth found jail warden Wanda Patten and DC Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth in contempt of court over their treatment of Worrell and referred the matter to the Department of Justice with orders to conduct a civil rights investigation into how widespread treatment like Worrell’s has been.
“It’s clear to me that the civil rights of the defendant were violated by the DC Department of Corrections,” the judge said during the hearing. “I don’t know if it’s because he’s a January 6 defendant or not, but I find this matter should be referred to the attorney general of the United States for a civil rights investigation.”
While he did not specifically impose punishment on the pair, he found that they had dragged their feet and caused “inexcusable” delay in handing over records required to approve an operation Worrell needed.
Worrell was unable to receive treatment for his non-Hodgkins lymphoma and potential Covid-19 at the DC jail, according to his lawyers. Worrell also reportedly has a cracked tooth and a broken hand, having sustained the latter injury in jail.
After Worrell broke his hand while imprisoned in May, doctors recommended he have surgery; instead, according to his lawyers, he was merely given Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain medications for months. The correction officers’ failure to turn over Worrell’s health records amounts to “more than just inept and bureaucratic jostling of papers,” Lamberth said.
A member of right-wing ‘western chauvinist’ organization the Proud Boys, Worrell was arrested at his home in March and is being held for allegedly pepper-spraying police officers during the Capitol riot. Worrell denies actually entering the Capitol, but he has been hit with serious federal charges, including for carrying a ‘dangerous weapon’ (pepper spray) and knowingly entering a restricted area (the Capitol steps).
Judge Lamberth had previously dismissed Worrell’s claims of ill treatment as “without merit,” arguing the defendant had indeed been receiving “attentive medical care” for his conditions while in custody. A three-judge appellate court panel deemed him unfit for release at the time, citing the violent nature of his offense.
Worrell is hardly the first participant in the January 6 demonstration to complain about inhumane conditions at the DC jail. Complaints ranging from assault to a dearth of toenail clippers have surfaced among those still imprisoned.
More than 630 people have been charged for their alleged involvement in the events of January 6, and dozens still remain in jail.
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