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Former inmates file suits against Nez Perce County

Ralph Bartholdt Lewiston Tribune

A former inmate has filed a lawsuit against Nez Perce County alleging he feared for his life while incarcerated in the county jail and that his protestations to jailers fell on deaf ears.

The case filed in 2nd District Court is one of two lawsuits by inmates pending against the county.

Michael A. Love, who also uses the name Michael W. Haliburton, alleges detention deputies, officers and prosecutors in Nez Perce County violated his civil rights by preventing him from seeing his family, failing to provide him with access to the courts and failing to segregate him from a hostile prison population.

In the lawsuit, Love, who is African-American, claims detention deputies failed to take action despite knowing that inmates were insulting him with racially charged language and catcalls.

Love was a Kootenai County prisoner when he was transferred to the Nez Perce County Jail on Dec. 15. He claims he was wrongly held in Nez Perce County after being arrested in Kootenai County for several misdemeanors, including domestic battery, driving without a license and violating a no-contact order.

During his two weeks in the Nez Perce County Jail, Love said he feared for his life as the only African-American in a facility that had a segregated pod for white supremacists. Most white supremacists in the jail are also being held from Kootenai County, according to the sheriff’s office.

In a separate case filed in U.S. District Court, Jorge E. Rodriguez is alleging he was beaten by another prisoner in an assault instigated by a Nez Perce County detention deputy. Rodriguez is being held in the county jail on a felony drug charge.

Rodriguez alleges a county detention deputy told an inmate that Rodriguez would testify against him. The suit alleges Rodriguez was being interviewed at the jail by an FBI agent in the presence of a jailer, who informed another prisoner.

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