Last month, Loretta Grant entered her son Kiheem’s East Texas hospital room after 22 years. Instead of the quiet boy who left her at 16, a man appeared. Despite feeling his skull damage with her hands, she said his face was familiar. According to a state report, Texas prison guards caused that damage, which may put him in a coma for life.
I felt his scarred head. It was hard. Grant said the doctor told him he was beaten with a blunt instrument. Due to an investigation and HIPAA, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice would not confirm the man’s name or physical condition.
“TDCJ does not discuss pending investigations. However, policy or lawbreakers will be punished, said Amanda Hernandez, TDCJ director of communications. The Inspector General reported that Grant, 48, stabbed a Coffield Unit guard on Sept. 5. Grant has been in solitary at the northeast Texas prison for years.
A group of guards in full riot gear called a “extraction team” tried to take Grant out of his cell. A witness said that Grant was finally taken away after being hit over the head several times, leaving him almost lifeless. Since then, he’s been in a coma. After getting treated and sent home from the hospital, the guard who was stabbed has been getting better at home.
Seven guards were fired and six quit because of the fight. The state said they used “excessive force.” Grant’s mother talked about the hurt body that used to be her son. While he was in handcuffs, she saw dark rings around each wrist where the tubes that fed him food had been.
She said, “I guess they had the handcuffs on so tight that you could see the pink part of his skin.” “I put Vaseline on both of his wrists and where the handcuffs were, there was a dark circle.” These were the first details about Grant’s condition that were made public. It was also the first time he was publicly named as the prisoner who was abused, which led to 13 prison officials being fired or resigning.
The mother of Grant said that Warden Juaquine Pope called her at 10 p.m. two days after the event but didn’t say much. She was told that her son had been in an accident and was now in the Intensive Care Unit. “They didn’t tell me what went on.” That’s right, she said, “I was trying to figure out what was going on.”
Even though she had Kiheem’s power of attorney, she said she was still not told what happened and was given “the runaround” when she asked for medical records. Grant said she was shocked to find her son in a coma when she got to the second of three hospitals where her son would be treated. She was told by doctors that it might last forever.
He was hit several times with hard objects, which caused his brain to bleed heavily. A state report said that the inmate was taken to the hospital with head and face injuries because of the force. Along with the firings and resignations, at least one guard was being looked into for aggravated assault by a public servant, which is a crime that can lead to life in prison.
The only suspect named in the state report was Abayomi Ipoola, a guard who was recently promoted to sergeant. It named 32 witnesses, twenty of whom are guards and twelve of whom are prisoners. It is not clear if more than one guard was looked into, but a detail given to Grant was very different from what TPR found.
According to Grant, she talked to a prison official who told her that they would be charged with attempted murder if the man died. If he did die, they would also be charged with murder. According to her, Grant only had a 25% chance of survival at first after getting oxygen pumped into his lungs. His mother said that he was able to get off the ventilator.
Because of his brain damage, he would sometimes move, jerk, and sit up without meaning to. I, my daughter, and my brother all had his hand squeezed while we were there. “His head was moving from side to side,” she said. Grant had been in prison for almost 20 years for a violent robbery and murder he did in Beaumont.
According to the TDCJ website, he was already not likely to get out of Texas prisons because he attacked a guard at another prison, and now 40 years have been added to his 99. Grant beat up a witness in front of the jury 19 years ago while he was on trial for aggravated robbery. He might now spend the rest of his life in a prison hospital bed, not knowing what’s going on around him.
His death is yet another tragedy in Grant’s life. When Kiheem was a child, his father was killed, leaving Grant to raise her kids by herself in Harlem. Her daughter was killed by her husband, she said. She believed that Kiheem, who was quiet and active, would avoid a terrible fate. In the end, though, he became impossible to control.
“He often ran away. “He went crazy when he joined that Bloods gang and other things,” she said. Grant didn’t know how her son got to Texas, but she and her son started writing to each other regularly once he was in jail. He couldn’t speak, see, or respond the night of September 5, and she wasn’t sure what happened. But she kept questioning TDCJ’s official claims that her son started an attack. Grant is now trying to figure out what happened, who did it, and what will happen next.
She said that TDCJ is “100% responsible” for what happened to Kiheem and that she might sue them. She also wanted to ask for his compassionate release so that he could spend the rest of his life in a New York hospital close to her.
For now, the most important thing she needs to do is ask TDCJ to let her visit her son again next month at the Galveston prison hospital. His 49th birthday is coming up.
“I would really like to see these criminals you know get punished, put in jail,” she said. “You know they’re out and about. They’re probably still walking around getting paid, even if they don’t work. My son ended up in the hospital pretty much dead.