DRAPER, Utah — Yeager Gleave’s lawsuit alleges that as soon as the cell doors slid open, inmates from a rival gang ran down the stairs and started a fight, lasting all of 20 seconds but adding months to his time in prison.
He also suffered injuries to his back and scalp from rival gang members.
(Photos can be viewed at the bottom of this article. However, they may be graphic to some viewers)
“Now, what are you going to do?,” asks Gleave’s mother, Roni Wilcox. “Are you going to stand there and wait for somebody to assault you? Are you going to back down and watch them assault and kill your cellmate? Or are you going to step up and defend yourself and your cellmate?”
Gleave filed his lawsuit in a federal court in Salt Lake City last week, claiming the warden of the Gunnison prison and other administrators at the Utah Department of Corrections knew a scheduling change would lead to fights among gang members.
Gleave declined to speak to FOX 13.
The lawsuit is the latest wrinkle in a dispute over what was known as the "A/B Schedule," instituted years ago to ensure rival gangs would not be released from their cells at the same time.
In 2019, the department announced it would no longer follow such scheduling; some opposing gang members would be allowed out of their cells for recreation breaks at the same time.
Gleave was 20 years old and in the Gunnison prison, sent there after violating probation for a conviction of aggravated assault during a gang fight. On Nov. 6, 2019, Gleave’s lawsuit says, there was an announcement over the intercom that led to the riot.
“They proceeded to announce over the intercom, Wilcox said, “‘Gentlemen, A/B day rec, A/B day is off. You are on section rec.’ Which means that they’re going to let anybody and everybody out and you’re going to have to deal with it.”
Gleave’s attorneys obtained a video of the fight yet declined to provide it to FOX 13, but Wilcox says the footage shows how the prison anticipated the violence by staging a SWAT team and medical staff glass as the fight started. An officer fired a flash grenade to break up the brawl.
Wilcox, who is also an advocate for other Utah prison inmates, said her son had to defend himself, and said administrators of the Department of Corrections “are bullies and shame on them.”
This is not the first time the change is policy was under attack; families of inmates held a protest at the Draper prison in January 2020. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Feldsted told The Salt Lake Tribune that altercations had decreased since the A/B Schedule was eliminated about two months earlier.
Feldsted last week declined to comment on Gleave’s lawsuit.
Gleave’s lawsuit does not specify a dollar amount he’s seeking, but Wilcox says the family is primarily seeking a policy change to prevent future incidents.
(POSSIBLE GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: The photos below show unedited images of a prison inmate's injuries sustained in a fight, including blood.)