Two recently fired Alabama cops are being accused of using a giant six-foot tropical snake to terrorize an inmate in the local jail nearly two years ago.
On Monday, Trawick Redding Jr., of Ozark, Alabama, filed a $3 million federal lawsuit against Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson, two correctional officers, and other jail staff who he said were aware of the incident.
The lawsuit alleges that the two former officers, Zeneth Glenn and Ryan Mittlebach, held a 6'7" Burmese python just inches from Redding's face to terrorize him while he was incarcerated.
"[They used] a deadly and venomous snake as a means of torture, assault of inmate, cruel and unusual punishment," the complaint states. Both Glenn and Mittlebach involved in the incident were later fired.
The trauma of the encounter led Redding to seek psychological treatment for post-traumatic stress.
"We think this is a very serious matter that should be dealt with," Redding's attorney Martin Weinberg told the Alabama Media Group. "This was not just a garden snake that somebody just found on the ground walking into the jail or the woods by the jail. This was something that was planned out as a means to control, torture, and harass the inmates."
In the suit, Redding describes how on August 11, 2013 the officers brought the snake into the jail kitchen where he worked. Redding had specifically mentioned he was afraid of snakes. Later that day, he awoke from a nap to find one of the officers holding the giant python just inches from his face.
Terrified, Redding jumped up and hit his head on his bunk. He spent time in the jail medical facility and saw a therapist to help recover from the incident. He later returned to the jail and served the final year of his sentence.
According to Redding's attorney, the incident was common knowledge within the jail. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson confirmed that the deputies involved were later fired.
Redding pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and second-degree theft of property charges in September 2012. He was released from jail in the fall of 2014.
Alabama has seen its share of prisoner abuse scandals. The Department of Justice documented an "unabated" culture of sexual abuse and harassment at a Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpk in 2014. That same year, the Southern Poverty Law Center accused the Alabama Department of Justice of subjecting disabled people to systematic "cruel and unusual punishment," across the state.