A prison whistleblower filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections on Thursday alleging continued and repeated retaliation over the past eight months.
Shaun Holland, an assistant deputy warden in the Lewis prison, had previously filed whistleblower disclosures on December 3 and July 24.
Just hours after local media reported on the most recent complaint, Holland was placed on administrative leave.
“Four days later, and after the story appeared in the media, prison officials took illegal reprisal against plaintiff,” according to the lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Holland’s whistleblower disclosures outline problems with broken prison doors and retaliation for speaking out about the issue.
The Arizona Department of Corrections has not responded to requests for comment about the lawsuit and retaliation claims.
The department placed Holland on administrative leave due to a use of force incident on July 21, 2020, according to a department letter.
The letter doesn’t offer further details.
However, Holland’s lawsuit offers some detail about the situation.
“This month plaintiff was present when another former whistleblower, Lt. Mark Hasz (who in late March reported that Shinn and other administrators were putting staff and inmates at risk for coronavirus because ADC refused to let employees wear masks inside the prisons) used minimal force to gain control of an inmate by taking him to the ground,” the lawsuit states. “Neither the inmate nor Lt. Hasz was injured. Plaintiff wrote a report indicating that, in his opinion, the use of force was fully justified. Prison administration seized upon this incident to open yet another retaliatory investigation of plaintiff and Lt. Hasz. Defendant Warden Kimble’s deputy, Johnson, advised plaintiff that he and Hasz would face criminal charges for the incident.”
An attorney for Holland told reporters that members of the department’s criminal investigation unit showed up at Holland’s house on Thursday morning to speak with him.
The investigators were not wearing masks, and the attorney said they were instructed to leave.