EJI has received multiple reports that Derrek Martin, 38, was beaten to death early this morning at Elmore Correctional Facility, part of a correctional complex in Elmore, Alabama, that includes adjoining Staton and Draper Correctional Facilities.
Mr. Martin had served 13 years of a 20-year sentence for robbery and had a parole date in 2027.
Witnesses reported that Mr. Martin was assaulted by three men at around 5 am, just after his dorm returned from breakfast. They told EJI that the officer assigned to that dorm was asleep in the cubicle and no prison staff responded to Mr. Martin’s cries for help.
The Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed that Mr. Martin died early Tuesday following an assault.
He is at least the 14th person murdered in an Alabama prison this year.
In 2023 alone, at least four people have been killed at Elmore Correctional Facility. Just last month, Daniel Williams died from injuries suffered during a brutal assault at the Elmore/Staton prison complex. In July, Rubyn Murray died from injuries suffered during a beating that was allegedly ordered by a correctional sergeant, D’Marcus Sanders, who was charged with murder.
In the past two years, at least 12 officers have been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted for assaulting people in their custody at the Elmore/Staton/Draper prison complex, where EJI has documented a pervasive, decade-long culture of violence and abuse of power.
In 2019, Sergeant Ulysses Oliver beat two handcuffed and unresisting prisoners at Elmore with his fists, feet, and collapsible baton while his supervisor, Lieutenant Willie Burks, stood by and watched. Both Oliver and Burks were sentenced to federal prison.
In 2022, Elmore officer Ell White was caught on camera beating an unresisting man who had climbed onto the roof of the prison chapel. Prior to this assault, Mr. White had been named in several complaints charging that prison guards used excessive force against people in their custody, including Billy Smith, an incarcerated man who died of blunt force trauma to the head after being assaulted at Elmore in 2017.
EJI received reports that Mr. Martin had been repeatedly assaulted on prior occasions, including an incident in which he was stabbed and placed on life support.
Several witnesses also reported that Mr. Martin previously had been the victim of violence inflicted or sanctioned by correctional officers.
About two weeks ago, Mr. Martin reportedly was attacked by incarcerated men at the direction of several correctional officers. Officers secluded Mr. Martin in a room, where he was attacked by multiple men, who left him on the floor, bloody and bruised. Because the assault was instigated by officers, he was afraid to report it or seek medical help.
EJI also received a cell phone video purporting to show the beating of Mr. Martin. ADOC later told reporters the video of a shirtless, shoeless man on the ground crying loudly and screaming for help while one man beats him in the head with an object and a second man stomps on his head and torso is an authentic recording of a different assault at Bullock Prison where the victim survived the attack. ABC 3340 News reported that ADOC did not respond when asked why no guards were present in the video.
At least 99 people have been killed in Alabama’s prisons since the Justice Department launched the investigation that led federal prosecutors to sue the state for failing to protect people in its custody from violence.
But Alabama still has not announced any measures being implemented to reduce the violence or killings in its prisons.