Jail Phone Calls Made During Bristol County ICE Lockup Incident Released
Two telephone calls made by immigrant detainees as a chaotic incident unfolded at the Bristol County House of Corrections on Friday night have been released.
The recordings, apparently of phone calls made by ICE detainees to a lawyer, were obtained by a reporter for the Boston-based publication Commonwealth.
A detainee speaking in Spanish can be heard describing the situation while coughing. “They sprayed gas, they’ve hit us, and they’ve beat us,” he said, according to a translation by Commonwealth. When asked to explain, the detainee said, “Because they want to test us for coronavirus, and they said they want to move us all. We said we’re afraid to be moved and don’t want to be tested there. They threw gas, and people are passing out."
A second detainee called and said Hodgson himself had attacked him. “The sheriff approached me and attacked me. He assaulted me. That m-f-cker. And then people reacted to it. They made them hold me down, then they started spraying pepper. I got pepper in my mouth, I have asthma,” the man said.
According to previous reports, Hodgson wanted to test detainees with COVID-19 symptoms and the men did not move when asked to pack their bags and head to a medical unit in the main building. The detainees later said they suspected it was a ploy to place them in solitary confinement, and that they didn't want to be exposed to the viral disease within the general jail population. The C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center, where the civil detainees are held, is in a separate location from the main House of Detention on the North Dartmouth campus.
Hodgson alleges that he twice called the men by name before he grabbed a telephone from the hand of one detainee who had ignored him. He said the man falsely announced that he was being assaulted before a group of men violently rushed at him, and that one hit him with a chair, bruising him in the arm.
Although the timeline isn't clear, Hodgson at some point called in a security force and K-9 unit. Hodgson also confirmed that pepper spray was used to subdue the detainees. During an altercation, the Unit B facility was badly damaged, with sinks torn from the walls, windows broken, and furniture and belongings strewn across the floor.
Twenty-six detainees are now in isolation pending COVID testing and disciplinary action, Bristol County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jonathan Darling told Commonwealth.
There are currently three investigations pending -- one by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, a second by Attorney General Maura Healey, and a third by the state Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee.
Hodgson has said he is reviewing video of the incident in advance of potentially fiing charges against some of the detainees. His office said the video footage will not be released until the federal DHS investigation is complete.