A man awaiting trial on a murder charge in the 2012 beating death of his 8-year-old son is suing East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and Parish Prison officials, claiming they failed to protect him from a severe beating last May at the hands of a convicted sex offender with a history of fighting at the prison.
Michael Anthony Robertson, who filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Baton Rouge federal court, claims the assault by Percy Cage left Robertson disfigured and with loss of sight in his right eye. He is seeking damages from various sheriff’s and prison officials, including Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.
Robertson contends Cage, who allegedly has a violent history within the prison, had just come out of lockdown for fighting and was put back into a general population tier, where he assaulted Robertson.
Robertson alleges Cage had been telling other inmates he had issues with Robertson, purportedly based on the allegations in Robertson’s criminal case.
“Any inmate can request to be placed in protective custody if they fear violence against them. Robertson did not do so. We had no knowledge of any threats against Robertson,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said Wednesday.
Robertson acknowledges in his suit that he did not seek to be placed in protective custody from Cage because, according to the suit, an inmate in protective custody on the lockdown tier is treated the same as inmates who are on lockdown for disciplinary reasons.
“Even though the endangered inmate is on the lockdown tier for his own protection, and not for violating any rule or regulation of the Parish Prison, the endangered inmate is subject to the severe restrictions of the lockdown tier,” Jim Craig, who also represents Robertson in his criminal case, states in the suit filed on Robertson’s behalf.
“These include ... that the endangered inmate is not allowed to have any reading materials other than the sacred scripture of the inmate’s own declared religion, that the wrists and ankles of the endangered inmate must be restrained when out of his cell, and other restrictions that have no relationship to the need to protect the endangered inmate.
“Thus, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison’s practice of ‘protective custody’ is, in reality, punitive custody,” Craig adds.
Robertson claims Cage, whose hand was set in a cast or brace, struck Robertson in the face with the cast or brace, causing him to pass out and fall to the floor, bleeding heavily. Cage allegedly hit Robertson two more times after Robertson passed out.
The suit claims Robertson’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated.
Robertson, 50, of Baton Rouge, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 8-year-old son, Xzayvion Riley, on June 12, 2012.
The death was classified as a homicide. Coroner’s officials found he died of overwhelming infection caused by a ruptured bowel from blunt-force trauma to his abdomen.
An autopsy revealed 60 external signs of recent and past trauma.
The boy’s mother, 36-year-old Lavaughn Riley, who was Robertson’s girlfriend, also faces a first-degree murder count in her son’s death.
Cage, the Baton Rouge man who allegedly assaulted Robertson, is serving a life sentence on a 2011 sex-crime conviction. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III previously called Cage a menace.
Cage once faced second-degree murder and second-degree feticide charges in the 2009 shooting deaths of Tanya Smith, 31, and her 15-year-old brother, Renea Boreaux, while they slept in their Syble Drive home.
Smith was eight months’ pregnant.
Cage was Smith’s former boyfriend, police said.
The state Supreme Court upheld Cage’s sex-crime conviction and life term in the fall of 2013, prompting prosecutors later that year to dismiss the murder, feticide and other related charges he was facing.