An incarcerated gay man in Kentucky’s Warren County Regional Jail endured days of harassment from fellow prisoners before one of them bit off part of his nose.
Now with the help of the Kentucky Equality Federation, Brandon Milam is suing the jail, its top official, the county and his assailant, Timothy Schwartz for assault, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“Other inmates made it well known that they did not approve that I was gay,” Milam said. According to his suit, Milam endured a week of “anti-homosexual slurs, insults and remarks” including death threats, from Schwartz and other inmates. On July 2, a friendly game of hearts turned bloody after Schwartz took the term “sore loser” to a whole other level.
“I remember hearing my nose getting ripped off my face and seeing him spit it on the floor. They all 4 started in yelling ‘Kill the Faggot’ and ‘Beat that lil’ Ho Fag.’ I was also called queer several times.”
Another inmate found the severed piece of nose, but an attempt to reattach it at Vanderbilt Hospital proved unsuccessful. Milam now faces four reconstructive surgeries, the first of which costs an estimated $26,000.
“I just want my medical bills paid for,” Milam told Bowling Green Daily News. “I want to get all of this behind me.”
Milam was in jail following a probation violation for a shoplifting charge but was put under house arrest after his attack. The suit alleges the jail and jailer Jackie Strode acted with deliberate indifference in placing Milam, whom they knew was gay, in a cell with 14 other men.
“While being homosexual in and of itself does not necessarily warrant special treatment while incarcerated, recklessly ignoring this fact and placing a vulnerable inmate with others who are likely to commit a violent act such as this meets the legal standard and opens the facility, on-duty guards, and jailer to civil action,” said KEF’s Vice President of Legal, Jillian Hall.
“Steps must be taken to protect LGBTI inmates from violence, especially when they are already being called derogatory names such as queer and faggot,” Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer said in a statement. “This case reaches beyond what happened to Mr. Milam; since anyone can swear a warrant for your arrest this could happen to any LGBTI community member or any other minority group, regardless of substantial evidence or even guilt.”