Paralyzed North Carolina prisoner Timothy Helms told the Raleigh News & Observer yesterday that correctional officers beat him with batons and slammed his head into a concrete wall at a maximum security prison. Helms said he was assaulted while handcuffed and shackled, as well as restrained around his neck with a collar and leash similar to that used on dogs. The officers taunted him, telling him he would die from his injuries, Helms said.
Alexander Correctional Institution, where Helms was incarcerated, has been the subject of past complaints of harsh treatment, including the use of thick nylon leashes to restrain inmates. Separate reviews by the state Department of Correction and the State Bureau of Investigation have failed to determine how Helms got his injuries, which included two skull fractures and bruises on his torso an emergency room doctor later said were consistent with welts left by strikes from a billy club. Correction Secretary Alvin Keller suggested that Helms might have injured himself in a fall, though he has disclosed no evidence to support that theory.