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Son Of Man Beaten To Death By Guards In Prison 'Blind Spot' Demands Answers

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A downstate prisoner was handcuffed and beaten to death by prison guards in 2018.

But the beating took place in the shadows, in a notorious "blind spot" without cameras.

One that a federal lawsuit claims that guards were aware of and took advantage of for years.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey spoke exclusively with that inmate's son and he's calling on the state to investigate.

He said he was contacted by other inmates and their families, who claim the were beaten in the same blind spot where his father was.

And now they're demanding a bigger investigation.

"I don't know how they could treat a human like that let alone a 65-year-old who couldn't defend themselves? Handcuffed. Who does that? You don't even treat animals like that."

Larry Pippion said his relationship with his father was strained because of his dad's long history of mental illness.

"He cared about people. Always supported him no matter what," Pippion said.

In 2018, 65-year-old Larry Earvin was behind bars at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mount Sterling where he was serving time for stealing watches from a hospital gift shop.

That's where Earvin was "disciplined" by correctional staff, out of sight of the facility's cameras.

"They take them to this spot on purpose so they know that there won't be any accountability."

Jon Erickson represents Earvin's family

"The three corrections officers were indicted."

In a federal lawsuit, Earvin's died on his injuries about six weeks later after the filing states that medical treatment was withheld for several hours.

It was a homicide, according to a graphic autopsy.

Pippion said the report is too difficult for him to read.

He was also stunned to learn that his father's beating inside a state prison wasn't captured on video.

"Seems hard to believe because you'd believe in a place like that you'd have cameras everywhere," Pippion said.

Erickson formed a coalition of lawyers who represent eight other victims of beating in the "blind spot" - including one other inmate who died - to demand a full investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's office.

At last check, the coalition said it had not gotten a response.

The Illinois Department of Corrections said it's taken action, installing 79 new cameras at Western Illinois Correctional Center over the last year.

The agency said the use of excessive force "will in no way be tolerated."

But Earvin's family said they want more.

"What we are demanding that the Illinois legislature conduct an open and thorough investigation," Erickson said.

"Just want some type of justice you know so that this doesn't keep happening," Pippion said.

In December 2019, three Illinois prison guards were indicted in connection with Larry Earvin's death.

One pleaded guilty, the other two are awaiting trial.

CBS 2 reached out to the Attorney General's office about the demands from the coalition, but so far, no response.

The Illinois Department of Corrections spokesperson Lindsey Hess sent a statement to CBS 2 that reads:

IDOC staff have a professional and moral obligation to protect the safety of individuals sentenced to our custody and treat them with dignity. The use of excessive force violates that obligation and will in no way be tolerated.

Under the leadership of Director Rob Jeffreys, we have increased security measures statewide. These measures include, but are not limited to:

• The installation of 79 new cameras at Western Illinois Correctional Center over the last year.
• The institution of a unit management system at several facilities, including Western Illinois, to create greater contact between counselors, security staff, and people in custody. This approach increases opportunities for communication and improves the Department's responsiveness to the concerns of incarcerated people.
• The hiring of an attorney to serve as Chief Inspector. Chief Latoya Hughes is charged with providing oversight of the statewide grievance system and identifying needed reforms to ensure the process is fair, consistent, and responds to the needs of the incarcerated population.

Due to pending litigation, no further information can be provided at this time.


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